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Thomas, Clarence (1948- )

Clarence Thomas, the second African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Pin Point, Georgia, a small community south of Savannah.  His mother, Leola Williams, a single parent, raised Thomas until he was seven.  He and his brother, Myers, were sent to Savannah where they were raised by their maternal grandfather, Myers Anderson. To help his grandsons to survive in the Jim Crow South, Anderson, a Democrat, local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member, and recent convert to Catholicism, instilled in them a discipline and pride that would counterpoint the harshness of southern racism.  Thomas remembers that after purchasing a new truck, his grandfather removed the heater because he believed its use would make the boys lazy.

Thomas was educated in St. Benedict the Moor, an all-black Catholic school in Savannah and later became the only African American student at St. John Vianney Minor Seminary just outside Savannah.  In 1967 he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in northwestern Missouri to prepare for the priesthood.  He withdrew after viewing one fellow student’s pleasure at the news that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated.

Thomas entered the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1968 as a result of an affirmative action program established after Dr. King’s death.  Thomas helped found the College’s Black Student Union and became a supporter of the Black Panther Party.  He also urged a student walkout to protest the college’s investments in South Africa.

After graduating 9th in his class in 1971, Thomas married Kathy Grace Ambush, a student at a nearby Catholic women’s college.  In 1973 they had a son, Jamal.  Thomas entered Connecticut"s Yale University Law School in 1971 under an affirmative action plan but soon came to resent what he felt was the patronizing attitude of both faculty and fellow students toward him and other African American students.  Thomas increasingly began to embrace conservative values, often linking them to

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