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Congressman James E. Clyburn to Give Meharry Medical College Commencement Address

135th Commencement will be Held on May 22

Nashville, Tenn. (Vocus) May 10, 2010 -- Congressman James E. Clyburn will give the commencement address at the 135th Commencement ceremony for Meharry Medical College on May 22. Commencement exercises will be held at 1 p.m. at David Lipscomb University in the Allen Arena. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.

Congressman Clyburn is the Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was unanimously elected to the third-ranking position (behind the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader) in the House by the House Democratic Caucus in 2006. He is the first South Carolinian and the second African American to hold the position. As Whip, Clyburn is responsible for ensuring and counting that there are sufficient votes to pass legislation as deemed appropriate by congressional leadership. He is the highest ranking African American in Congress.

Meharry Medical College is dedicated to improving the health care of minority and underserved communities and eliminating health disparities. Roughly 78 percent of alumni return to underserved communities to provide health care service. Approximately 50 percent of the students in the class of 2010 have matched into the much needed primary care fields of general internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology.

Clyburn was instrumental in the passage of health care reforms which he says will have an impact on alleviating disparities.

"Meharry's physicians, dentists, biomedical scientists and public health professionals share my passion and dedication to alleviating health disparities,” Clyburn said. "I am honored to address these future leaders of the nation's health care system who will join me in the charge to improve health care for all Americans particularly underserved communities.”

About James E. Clyburn: In 1970, Clyburn pursued his dream of running for the South Carolina House of Representatives. He was unsuccessful in his bid, however, he caught the eye of the newly elected governor, John Carl West. West asked Clyburn to join his administration. In accepting the post, Clyburn became the first African-American advisor to a South Carolina governor since post Reconstruction.

After almost four years on his staff, Governor West appointed Clyburn as South Carolina Human Affairs Commissioner. It was a position he would hold for almost 18 years serving four Governors -- two Democrats and two Republicans.

In 1992, Clyburn resigned his position as Human Affairs Commissioner to devote, fulltime in pursuit of his lifelong dream of serving in the United States Congress -- where no black South Carolinian had served since 1897. This time, in a field of five Democratic primary candidates, Clyburn won with 56 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off. He easily won the general election for South Carolina's Sixth Congressional District, and was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives in January 1993.

Congressman Clyburn began his steady climb on Capitol Hill winning election as co-President of his freshman class. Six years later, he was unanimously elected Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and to a seat on the coveted Appropriations Committee. In 2002, he was elected in a three-way race to serve as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, and in January 2006, his peers unanimously elevated him to Chair of the Caucus. In addition to serving as House Majority Whip, Congressman Clyburn serves as leader of the House Democrats' Faith Working Group.

About Meharry Medical College: Meharry Medical College ( is the nation's largest private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services; and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation's health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education's ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees, and Ph.D. degrees.

Cynthia Yeldell: 615.327.6986 or 615.280.0319
Stacey Nickens: 615.327.6209 or 615.775.8601

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Congressman James E. Clyburn to Give Meharry Medical College Commencement Address 
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