Clarence Thomas, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, recently made a return-visit to Southern California when he appeared at Chapman University, in Orange California, to promote and speak about his latest book release, My Grandfather’s Son.
Chapman was the final stop and the only university in the nation that Thomas was scheduled to visit on his book tour, which otherwise has included appearances before downtown audiences in major cities, outside of Southern California.
The event sold out almost immediately in the surrounding community, packing an auditorium and two adjacent listening rooms. Thomas’ lecture, which was presented by the Heritage Foundation along with the book publisher, HarperCollins, culminated with a controlled question and answer period where questions were written in advance and read by a hand-picked moderator.
It was not known whether or not any written questions were presented to Thomas about the fact that he was only one of two justices who voted against the amended sentencing guidelines for convicted crack versus powder cocaine users and dealers. Whether the question was presented or not, that topic was not addressed in Thomas’ remarks.
Thomas previously visited the Chapman campus in 1999 to participate in the opening of the Donald P. Kennedy Hall, home of the Chapman University School of Law. John Eastman, current dean of the Chapman School of Law, clerked for Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court, and apparently has been able to encourage his former boss to travel to Southern California.
HarperCollins describes Thomas’ book as, “provocative, inspiring, and unflinchingly honest, ‘My Grand-father’s Son’ is the story of one of America’s most remarkable and controversial leaders, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, told in his own words...”
Thomas was born in rural Georgia on June 23, 1948, into a life marked by poverty and hunger. His parents divorced when he was still a baby, and his father moved north to Philadelphia, leaving his young mother to raise him and his brother and sister on the ten dollars a week she earned as a maid. At age seven, Thomas and his six-year-old brother were sent to live with his mother’s father, Myers Anderson, and her stepmother in their Savannah home. It was a move that would forever change Thomas’ life.
His grandfather, whom he called ‘Daddy,’ was a black man with a strict work ethic, trying to raise a family in the years of Jim Crow. Thomas witnessed his grandparents’ steadfastness despite injustices, their hopefulness despite bigotry, and their deep love for their country. His own quiet ambition would propel him to Holy Cross and Yale Law School, and eventually-despite a bitter, highly contested public confirmation-to the highest court in the land. In this candid and deeply moving memoir, a quintessential American tale of hardship and grit, Clarence Thomas recounts his astonishing journey for the first time, and pays homage to the man who made it possible.
Intimately and eloquently, Thomas speaks out, revealing the pieces of his life he holds dear, detailing the suffering and injustices he has overcome, including the acrimonious and polarizing Senate confirmation hearing and the depression and despair it created in his own life and the lives of those closest to him. My Grandfather’s Son is the story of a determined man whose faith, courage, and perseverance inspired him to rise up against all odds and achieve his dreams.