Sunday, September 30, 2007

Clarence Thomas

A personal hero of mine has his memoirs out this week. "My Grandfather's Son" is Clarence Thomas writing about his life. As part of the media blitz, Jan Crawford Greenburg writes a multipart story for ABC news based on the book and 7 hours of interviews with the current Supreme Court justice.

Sixteen years after the bitter confirmation hearings that would forever put the name "Anita Hill" in any story written about him, Thomas remains one of the most compelling and divisive figures in public life. That is both ironic and inevitable for a man who, on the surface, appears to be a study in conflicts. He is black, but a conservative. He is contrarian and independent, but wants deeply to connect with people. He holds a job he never wanted, but has strong ideas about how to do it. He fiercely protects his privacy, but has written a book that is intensely personal and, at times, anguished.

The stories by Jan Greenburg are enlightening because Justice Thomas is fiercely protective of his private life. His formative years growing up in the South when it was transitioning from the Jim Crow era to integration are particularly interesting. His grandfather would make him stand up in weekly NAACP meetings to read his grades aloud. As a black activist in college, he admired Malcolm X.

Part one of eight segments by Greenburg is here. (Along with video)

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