In December 1961, James E. Clyburn was a 21-year-old at South Carolina State University who had completed all his credits and was set to graduate. However, because the school at the time allowed only one commencement ceremony a year — usually in the spring — Clyburn received his diploma in the mail instead of marching alongside his classmates. He could have returned to walk in the 1962 ceremony, but by then he was busy with a new teaching job in Charleston.
Sixty years later, Clyburn, now an 81-year-old Democratic congressman from South Carolina and the House majority whip, will get the opportunity to experience the pomp and circumstance of the college graduation ceremony he never had. And a special guest will hand him his diploma: President Biden, who is giving the commencement address at the school on Friday.
‘It means a great deal to me,’ Clyburn said Thursday on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’