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Clarence Thomas was born June 23, 1948 in the small black community of Pin Point, Georgia. He grew up poor and spent a significant portion of his childhood without his father. Thomas attended seminary at the urging of his grandfather and graduated from St. John Vianney Minor Seminary in 1967.
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 encouraged Thomas to become involved in social justice causes, and he began protesting the Vietnam War as well as campaigning for civil rights. He helped establish the Black Student Union at Holy Cross College. It was his attendance of Yale University Law School that helped shaped his conservative views.
After earning his law degree, working for Missouri Attorney General John Danforth, and spending several years as an attorney for Monsanto, Thomas eventually received several appointments from President Ronald Reagan. This included being named as the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1982.
President George H.W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This would be Thomas’ only judgeship prior to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991 as a replacement for Thurgood Marshall.
Despite allegations of sexual harassment from former aide Anita Hill, the selection committee ruled that there was not enough evidence to support Hill’s allegations, and Thomas was approved by a 52-48 vote of the Senate.
One of Thomas’ decisions that have made many question whether or not he truly supports the rights of black people was his opposition to decisions that favor affirmative action.
Thomas has also been criticized for his history of favoring police over defendants when it comes to Fourth Amendment issues of unreasonable search and seizure.
The following video is a 60 minutes interview. The interview is conducted by Steve Kroft and originally aired in 2007. The two discuss the fact that so many black people consider him a sell out for his conservative views as well as Thomas’s initial hesitancy at being appointed to the Supreme Court.