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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Doing Thomas Justice

On the many virtues of Clarence Thomas.

Washington,Dc.,,Usa,,September,10,,1991,Clarence,Thomas,Nominee,For
(mark reinstein/Shutterstock)

In 1987, when I was newly wed and back for one more round in D.C., I interviewed Clarence Thomas, then chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, for Reason magazine. I liked him immediately and unreservedly.

I had read Juan Williams’s trenchant profile of Thomas in The Atlantic and was pleased to find he was solidly within the broad agrarian and working-class African American tradition encompassing Booker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers. The hallmarks of these related lineages were mutual aid, community cooperation, allegiance to ordinary people instead of W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Talented Tenth,” and an aversion to kissing the asses of patronizing white liberals. 

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