Clarence Thomas: Still a Mystery

CNN's John Blake asks why Clarence Thomas is poised to help the U.S. Supreme Court bury two pillars of the civil rights movement -- the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action -- especially since he has benefited from both.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 2011 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Arguing that Clarence Thomas has benefited from two pillars of the civil rights movement -- the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action -- CNN's John Blake asks why the justice is poised to help the Supreme Court bury them.

He wore a black beret and army fatigues, warned people that a revolution was coming and memorized the speeches of Malcolm X.

"I now believed that the whole of American culture was irretrievably tainted by racism," he once said, describing his reaction to the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Soon, that same man is expected to help the U.S. Supreme Court bury two pillars of the civil rights movement: the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action.

There may seem to be a contradiction between the Clarence Thomas who was the angry campus radical in the 1960s and the conservative hero who sits on the Supreme Court today. But some legal observers say Thomas sees himself as a "prophetic civil rights leader" who is still fighting for the same cause -- a colorblind America. ...

One man's hero, though, is another man's sellout. During his 22 years on the nation's highest court, Thomas has been called a self-loathing "Uncle Thomas." His impact, though, cannot be ignored. His judicial opinions have transformed America. And no other contemporary Supreme Court justice has spoken with such raw emotion about race or has embodied the subject's complexities.

Read John Blake's entire piece at CNN.

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