A new children’s book tells the compelling story of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from his early childhood to his Supreme Court confirmation and beyond.
The book, titled “Clarence Thomas: A Justice For All,” emphasizes the virtues of resilience and hard work, presenting Thomas as a hero of the Constitution who triumphed over adversity from the bigotry of old-fashioned racists in the 1960s and more modern racial attacks from the Left.
The children’s book was published recently as part of the “Heroes of Liberty” series. It came out just before a Georgia state senator branded Thomas as an “Uncle Tom” for “betraying his own community,” an attack tracing back decades that the book references multiple times.
The book emphasizes a quote from Thomas’ grandfather, Myers Anderson, who never graduated elementary school but whose practical wisdom has guided the conservative justice throughout his life. When Anderson took his grandson Thomas and his brother to work with him, they sometimes would complain, “We can’t do this, it’s too hard.”
“Old Man Can’t is dead. I helped bury him,” Anderson would say.
This message resonated with Thomas so much that he keeps a bust of his grandfather above his desk, with the inscription: “Old Man Can’t is dead. I helped bury him.”
This message of resilience runs through “Clarence Thomas: A Justice For All,” which recounts Thomas’ humble beginnings in poverty in Pin Point, Georgia, his tumultuous college years, and the political and legal journey that led him to the nation’s highest court.
The children’s book does not shy away from racial messages, recounting how Thomas faced exclusion from parts of Savannah, Georgia, due to his skin color, how his Catholic school was segregated by race, and how the 1968 assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. led him to advocate racial equality to the point of involving himself in a riot.
The book describes “leftist political radicals” with whom Thomas associated in college. “Most of them did not believe in God and did not like America,” the book recounts. One night, Thomas joined “an angry mob” protesting the Vietnam War, and that protest “turned into a violent riot.”
Thomas “was deeply shaken by all the violence, and deeply regretting participating in it,” the book recounts. This regret led him to pray and rededicate himself to his studies.
The book recounts how Thomas grew to appreciate Ronald Reagan, a former Democrat like Thomas himself. It also tells the story of the 1980 Fairmont Conference, where Thomas heard the great economist Thomas Sowell speak. At the conference, the book says, Thomas “met other black Americans who thought like he did, and he realized he was not alone.”
Yet other black leaders called Sowell “a traitor to his race” for working for a Republican. The book recounts: “Of course, the opposite was true: Clarence Thomas did not turn his back on black people. It was just that he thought Dr. Sowell’s ideas would help them more. Like Dr. Sowell, he believed that all people—regardless of color—can only be truly happy when they take responsibility for their own lives.”
Thomas faced such criticism in many contexts. When President George H.W. Bush nominated him to serve on the Supreme Court in 1991, the book says, “black activists blamed him unjustly for betraying the black community.”
“To Clarence Thomas, it felt like when he was little and wasn’t allowed to walk through Forsyth Park in Savannah just because he was black,” the book explains. “Now, it wasn’t about walking through a park; it was about some people believing he should not be allowed to think a different way just because he was black. Clarence Thomas would not allow them to bully him into backing down from what he knew was right. He would walk tall and not back down from his beliefs.”
The book recounts Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings, led by then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. The book briefly references the sexual assault allegations made by Anita Hill, characterizing them as Hill’s claiming Thomas “had acted very rudely toward her while they worked together.”
The book, 15th in the “Heroes of Liberty” series, seems particularly timely. The Georgia Senate on Tuesday approved a proposal to place a statue of the justice at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.
Republicans such as state Sen. Ben Watson, who represents Thomas’ birthplace in Chatham County, praised Thomas for “a life marked by tremendous achievement.”
Yet Democrats echoed the very criticism Thomas faced in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I’m just trying to tell you what we have in the African American community, when we talk about a person of color that goes back historically to the days of slavery and that person betraying his own community—we have a term in the black community,” state Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Henry County, who is black, said on the floor of the Georgia Senate. “That term that we use is called ‘Uncle Tom.’ An Uncle Tom … talks about a person who back during the days of slavery sold his soul to the slave masters.”
Heroes of Liberty has published multiple books about historical figures, including Sowell, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, John Paul II, and Harriet Tubman.
Heroes of Liberty editor and board member Bethany Mandel told Fox Business that too much modern children’s literature is “trying to sell an agenda” or has low production values. Heroes of Liberty aims to fill the gap with high-quality books that teach good moral lessons without political sermonizing, she said.
The Thomas book and others in the series are available at HeroesofLiberty.com.
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