Taking a break from his role as House Majority Whip and civil rights advocate, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) made a guest appearance on a Cornell junior’s podcast this past week.
Last September, Daniel James, II ’22 created the WVBR show “Black Voices on the Hill, a podcast that seeks to uplift Black voices at Cornell, in Ithaca and beyond. For its 26th episode, the podcast hosted its most well-known guest to date.
In the episode, which aired on April 20, James sat down for a conversation with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). Clyburn has represented the 6th congressional district of South Carolina since 1993.
“It was an absolute honor and honestly a dream come true,” James said. “As a homegrown South Carolinian, [Clyburn’s] civil rights legacy is of the same caliber as his friend, the late great John Lewis.”.
The conversation began the topic of policing and the Dereck Chauvin trial. The podcast was recorded before Chauvin was convicted of all charges in the death of George Floyd. At the time of the conversation, Clyburn stated that when it comes to the trial in question, observers need be “instructed by history” noting that because of this “the chances are he will not be convicted.” However, Clyburn did remain optimistic that Chauvin would be convicted, stating that he hoped the trial would be an exception to what he viewed as a historical precedent.
James and Clyburn next discussed the nation’s voting issues. Clyburn denounced corporate America’s support of Georgia’s new voting laws, which now require stricter forms of identification and limit accessibility to absentee ballots, He also mentioned that though several companies, including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have since changed their stances in response to protests, the move will not garner them a positive public perception in Georgia.
“Black people have always cared about making their voices heard, and yes, they’ve always cared about voting,” James told The Sun. “I think his story highlights how much we have had to do, however, to combat the constant threat placed upon our lives for daring to do so.”
The conversation next turned to discussion of the future of the Democratic Party. Clyburn remained optimistic that further action would be taken with regards to police and voting law reform because there has been a national outpouring over widespread issues of inequity. .
James noted that the Congressman’s perspective as a Black, rural American is one that is lacking both in politics and the national discourse.
“I want listeners to take away feeling as though they’ve heard a perspective that they have never considered, and maybe take introspection of their own lives as a result,” James said. “Whether that means checking their own privilege, realizing the daily threats to black livelihood, or even the absolute plethora of black excellence that exists at Cornell.”
James hopes the conversation serves to inspire listeners to continue pursuing social justice work and give back to their communities.
“His philosophy of prioritizing the poor, low-income, black and brown communities, is what has guided the bills he passes today,” James said.
The show can be found on any podcast platform, on Instagram and on WVBR.