CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Congressman James Clyburn’s service to South Carolinians will be honored through a gallery at the International African American Museum in Charleston.
The museum’s Carolina Gold Gallery – which offers a look at the transformative impact of enslaved people whose labor shaped and built the lucrative rice industry – will bear Clyburn’s name thanks to a $1 million donation from a Texas-based couple.
Clyburn has been a long-term supporter of the museum and the board’s first chair.
“I am honored to have a piece of this historic museum named in my honor. I am extremely thankful to Lynne and Greg for their contribution to the continued development of the International African American Museum,” said Congressman Clyburn. “My hope is that those who visit will leave with a more complete understanding of African American and American history.”
The dedication gift was presented by Lynne Dobson and Greg Wooldridge of Austin, Texas, whose foundation, Tejemos, supports social justice and civil rights causes, constitutional freedoms, and education.
Dodson’s family founded the popular burger chain Whataburger and created the Tejemos Foundation with her husband in 2020.
“Rep. Clyburn has always inspired me with his many years of devoted public service for our country, especially his tireless work to ensure that the needs of Black Americans are heard, and their contributions are recognized,” said Dobson, who met Clyburn during a luncheon in Austin last spring. “We are passionate about supporting people and institutions like IAAM, who are dedicating resources to exposing injustice and telling the whole truth of our history.”
Carolina Gold, a variety of African rice, was a staple in South Carolina until the late 1920s. Museum leaders say the exhibit will not only examine the root of the plantation systems but acknowledge the ingenuity that Africans brought to America.
“Through perseverance and resistance, African Americans were able to engineer community and shape the geography and economy in the Lowcountry,” the museum wrote in its announcement Wednesday.
They said the gallery examines the brutality of chattel slavery by utilizing the experiences of these people while demonstrating the idea of turning exploitation to triumph.
Clyburn, still in office, has served 15 terms representing South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District and served twice as majority whip. He is the third-ranked House Democrat.
The International African American Museum is expected to open in 2023.