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“America is a great country because Americans are good people”

Rep. Clyburn visits Boeing South Carolina as part of Black History Month celebration

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) visited with more than 200 Boeing South Carolina (BSC) teammates on Feb. 22, sharing his unique perspective on diversity and inclusion gleaned from more than 50 years of experience in the civil rights movement and public service. The visit was hosted by the BSC chapter of the Boeing Black Employees Association as part of the site’s Black History Month celebration.

“I believe that we are all placed on this earth to make a difference,” said Tim Keating, Boeing senior vice president of Government Operations in introducing Clyburn. “Jim Clyburn has made a difference in this state and this nation. He is a teacher, a mentor, and the embodiment of all that we celebrate during Black History Month.”

Clyburn, a native of Sumter, S.C., and Dr. Bobby Donaldson, head of the University of South Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights History and Research, shared a “fireside chat” conversation with the audience before taking questions. Clyburn recalled being arrested in Columbia, S.C., in 1961 as he took part in a peaceful protest at the state capital, and the unrest caused by school desegregation in South Carolina as he joined Gov. John West’s staff in 1970.

“I joined Gov. West’s staff at a time when South Carolina was going through turmoil,” he said. “But then, just as it is today, young people led the way for change. If you look back through history, it’s always young people who start movements and spark change.”

Working for change requires passion and determination, Clyburn noted, because you will face resistance. But even in the most challenging moments there is opportunity for growth.

“Not all of my experiences have always been pleasant along the way, but they’ve all been blessings.”

Clyburn summarized his thoughts by bringing home the need to embrace diversity and inclusion in everything we do.

“In order for us to have a successful community, we have to accommodate and adjust to each other’s experiences and beliefs. At Boeing, you’re a community, too. For you to produce these airplanes and succeed, you each have a role to play and you have to work together. Our society and our country is the same. We all have a role to play; if you do yours well and I do mine well, we can succeed as a state and a nation.”

The congressman left the crowd with a final thought on our nation.

“I believe that America is a great nation, and America is great because Americans are good people. If Americans ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn spoke with more than 200 Boeing South Carolina teammates at the company’s Black History Month celebration on Feb. 21.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn met several Boeing South Carolina teammates during his Feb. 22 visit. Here he poses for a photo with Aft Body teammate Janette Jones.