Clarence Thomas is a champion for conservatism – steadfast in his principles, and the embodiment of the American Dream. In his memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, Thomas describes his life, from his easy-going childhood, to the troubled days of his youth, to the adventure of his Supreme Court nomination. Throughout his life, Thomas has gained some invaluable knowledge that he passes on to his readers. Here is what I learned from Clarence Thomas’s life.

Work isn’t always glamorous or easy, but it’s worth it.

When Thomas was a child, he and his brother lived with their maternal grandparents who were hardworking, middle class Americans. Young Clarence would labor on the family farm in the heat of summer, and throughout the rest of the year, he would help his grandfather with the family business. As a boy, Thomas longed to run around or play games with his peers; nevertheless, his grandfather insisted Clarence and his brother work. While at the time, he did not appreciate the long work days, this foundation in hard work instilled in Thomas a work ethic he would carry out for the rest of his life—hard work pays off, always. Even when it’s not fun, not easy, and not glamorous.

Family matters.

Thomas’s father left his mother, whom Thomas refers to as Pigeon, and the two young boys by themselves. Fortunately, Thomas’s grandparents, whom he called Daddy and Aunt Tia, took the boys in and cared for them. When Thomas had a son of his own, Jamal, he made sure to always be there for him. Thomas grew up among cousins, aunts, and uncles, and he learned to value family from a young age. Even when he had moved away to become successful, he never forgot his roots and the people who loved him most.

Discrimination exists.

Thomas didn’t let himself become a victim; instead, he did his best and moved forward. Throughout his life, Thomas received and observed unfair treatment of black people. Living in Savannah, Georgia, as a young boy during the Civil Rights Movement, Thomas knew about and experienced segregation. When he moved to Boston, he saw the effects of busing on black children. Thomas recognized these were legitimate problems, but he persisted, and eventually, he began to advocate against discriminatory policies.

Always stay true to principles.

Although he was unfairly treated because of his conservative beliefs, Thomas wouldn’t fall prey to identity politics. When he switched to the Republican Party and worked for the Reagan Administration, Thomas received harsh criticism from liberals and other blacks. The thought that a black man could be a conservative angered many Democrats—and they used this against Thomas during his nomination process to the Supreme Court. Yet, despite being labeled an outsider, Thomas stood firm in his principles. He truly is an inspiration to conservatives across America.

Faith in God is the most important part of life.

While Thomas grew up going to church, reading the Bible, and attending a Catholic school, he strayed away from his faith as a young adult. During his grueling Supreme Court nomination process, however, he rediscovered the faith of his youth. He found peace, comfort, joy, and strength in the Bible and in God. He learned that God really is the most important part of his life.

Clarence Thomas highlights many lessons in his book that all young Americans need to hear. He has experienced the best of times and the worst of times. Through it all, he has emerged as a principled, strong leader, who truly exemplifies the American Dream. 

Katya P
Katya Pledger is a high school student who is thankful to be an American and is passionate about the Constitution, conservatism, and capitalism.

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