Clarence Thomas Longs for the Sixties When Race Was No Biggie in the South

These days, people are way too sensitive about it, the Supreme Court justice says.

Posted: 02/12/2014 12:22 PM EST
Clarence Thomas Longs for the Sixties When Race Was No Biggie in the South

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a very different recollection than those who participated in the civil rights movement about what it meant to be colored, as African-Americans were called then, in the South. Indeed, he thinks society is way more "conscious" of and too "sensitive" about race and people need to stop talking about it so much.

"My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first Black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school," he told students at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida Tuesday. "Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah."

Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964 did declare Savannah to be "the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon line," but that was achieved only because Blacks protested. A major campaign led by W.W. Law, who headed up the local NAACP, forced the city to desegregate private and public facilities.

Still demonstrations were taking place across Georgia, making national headlines. There were no African-Americans serving in the state legislature. Blacks living in the Deep South also could not vote until after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

According to Thomas, he has suffered far more at the hands of "Northern liberal elites."

"The worst I have been treated was by Northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated," he said. "The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by Northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia."

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(Photo: Dennis Brack/Landov)

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