Justice Clarence Thomas Credits Influence of Catholic School, Sisters

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas credited his Catholic education with inspiring him, during an event last week at the University of Portland, according to a release from the University. Justice Thomas took part in a question and answer forum with faculty, staff and students prior to annual Red Mass celebrated by Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland.

During the event, “A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” Thomas said he drew strength from the Irish sisters who taught him that African-Americans were equal to white people, according to Oregon Live

“I read these narratives about the South, and they all have us crawling through dirt, and when we’re not crawling, we’re running from the Klan,” he reportedly said. “I lived with people that were positive and reinforcing and directed us in a certain way.”

In fact, it was the sisters’ influence which inspired him to spend his life trying to inspire “kids from modest backgrounds, kids whose parents had to decide between the rent and braces.”

It was that passion for helping young people that brought him to the University of Portland last week. In 2011, Justice Thomas called Fr. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., the president of the University, about a young homeless woman he had met who graduated high school with strong grades but was unable to financially handle tuition costs.

Thomas reportedly asked Fr. Beauchamp if the University and the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit of which Thomas is a member, could help. That young woman, a current student in the Nursing School at the University of Portland, was in the audience last week.

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