November 1999

Arthur J. H. Clement, Jr.

Business Leader

Arthur J. H. Clement, Jr.

Promoting positive race relations, spurring community development, and enhancing business incentives in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., were goals and achievements of businessman and community leader Arthur J. H. Clement, Jr. Born in Charleston, S.C., in 1908, his life later became a beacon for business savvy, political skills, and philanthropic support as he worked to promote goodwill among the citizens of his state. Upon Clement’s death in 1985, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., cited him as a pioneer among African American business leaders, ‘during a time of changing attitudes of the white race toward race relations. Riley credited Clement with helping to hasten ‘this positive change which improved our community. Clement prepared himself academically by attending Charleston’s Avery Institute, which was founded in 1865 via the philanthropic support of Charles Avery and the American Missionary Society, to provide elementary through ninth grade education. He then attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., earning his high school diploma from its high school department in 1926 and his baccalaureate in 1930. Highly motivated and determined to excel, Clement’s work experience began with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, founded by John Merrick in Durham, N.C., in 1885. He soon moved up the ranks. His hard work, continuous acquisition of knowledge, and positive disposition resulted in his being named manager of the Savannah, Ga. district in 1937. In 1942 upon his father’s retirement, he became manager of the Charleston, S.C. district. His outstanding achievements led to his opening new district offices as manager in Newark, N.J. in 1955 and Los Angeles, Calif., in 1961. He returned to the East coast as district manager in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1963. Clement’s outstanding career with North Carolina Mutual ended in 1967 when he accepted an appointment as Director of Admissions and Career Counseling at Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C., a position he held until 1973. Arthur Clement had a basic interest in politics, which was closely allied to his enduring concerns for racial equality and social justice. He was an active member of the South Carolina Progressive Democratic Party. It was organized in 1944 to provide African Americans with an opportunity to participate in state and national elections, which were then controlled by the all-white South Carolina Democratic Party. In 1950 Clement opposed incumbent Rep. L. Mendel Rivers in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, becoming the first African American in South Carolina to run for Congress as a Democrat. In his later years he was involved with the South Carolina Republican Party. An avid writer, and collector of copious records on race relations, politics, and community issues, Clement’s vast array of papers is housed at the University of South Carolina’s Caroliniana Library. As a public servant and community organizer, Clement’s extensive civic activities included the Board of Trustees of Johnson C. Smith University, Board of Visitors of Clemson University, Advisory Council of South Carolina State University, the Charlestowne Montessori School, Porter Gaud Academy and the M.U.S.C. Area Health Education Center. He was president of the Charleston Branch of the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and local district chairman of the Boy Scouts of America. Among his extensive honors and awards is the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award. He was an active member of the Rotary Club of Charleston. A true philanthropist, upon his death in 1985, Arthur J. H. Clement, Jr., bequeathed money for the creation of a trust fund which makes annual gifts to the YWCA of Charleston, the Coastal Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Hospice of Charleston, the Charleston Salvation Army, and the Hope Service, Inc.