U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, addressing students at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, said that conditions in the black community break his heart.
Thomas acknowledged that these communities suffer from persistent poverty and social dysfunction. He spoke to an appreciative audience of about 1,200 at the law school.
The Justice’s remarks touched on politics, race, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and his own struggles to follow his personal path in life.
Thomas said he doesn’t bear any ill-will toward those who hold views antithetical to his. “If I was going to have hard feelings, it’d be mostly on race issues,” Thomas said. “My heart is broken because I worked in the inner cities.”
Justice Thomas said that the Catholic sisters who taught him as a boy in Georgia drove home one point: “We were told under all circumstances that we were inherently equal,” he said, adding that he’s always been perplexed by people who assume he should think a certain way because he’s black. “My family was not inferior. I have never believed it and I never will.”
Thomas admitted that he just doesn’t like politics. “I don’t know how you tell somebody something that is obviously wrong, and you make them believe it,” he said, to laughter from the crowd.
Asked for his advice for young law students, the Justice said they should confront life’s challenges, remain positive, and “do well in order to do good.”