Emily England Clyburn, wife of SC congressman Jim Clyburn, dies at 80

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 17: Congressman James Clyburn and wife Emily attend the 2nd annual BET Honors at the Warner Theatre on January 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jeff Snyder/FilmMagic)

Dr. Emily England Clyburn - known librarian, activist, and wife of South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn - passed away Thursday morning, Sept. 19. 

To those not experienced in South Carolina politics and civic life, she was the wife of 58 years to Democrat Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress. To others, she was known affectionately as Ms. Emily - a driving force behind her husband’s political rise but also a fixture in the community. 

Ms. Emily graduated from Berkeley Training High School in Moncks Corner and earned a bachelor’s degree in Library Science from South Carolina State College (SCSU) in 1961. She furthered her studies at Atlanta University and the University of South Carolina, where in 1977 she received a Master in Librarianship. 

Dr. Em was extraordinarily dedicated to her alma mater. She and her husband Congressman Jim Clyburn, also a member of SCSU Class of 1961, were married for 58 years after meeting in jail during one of his incarcerations for campus activism.

They have been steadfast supporters of South Carolina State. A significant financial contribution from the couple allowed SCSU to re-establish its Honors College.  Earlier this year, Jim and Em re-designated the $1.7 million in endowed funds they raised and contributed to SCSU over several decades to establish the Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College Scholarship Endowment.

A celebration of her life and legacy will be held at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia at 5 pm on Sunday, September 22.