Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson:
The liberal arts education at Holy Cross exposed Thomas for the first time to the writings of many of the nation’s best black minds. The works of Richard Wright, in particular, “really woke me up,” Thomas later said. His favorites were Native Son and Black Boy because, as he put it, these novels of trapped and violent racial rage “capture[d] a lot of the feelings that I had inside that you learn to repress.” Native Son, the story of Bigger Thomas, who accidentally suffocates his wealthy white employer’s daughter and is falsely accused of raping and murdering her, struck a particularly deep chord in Thomas. Twenty-five years later, Thomas would echo some of these powerful themes during his Supreme Court hearings.
As his appetitie for Wright suggests, he was already examining the issue of race in America, beginning a thoughtful, iconoclastic search for answers that would occupy much of his life. As a habitual outsider, Thomas rejected many of the orthodoxies concerning racial remedies well before many of his peers; he questioned, for instance, the benefits of affirmative action and welfare long before it was fashionable to do so – almost, it sometimes seemed to his friends, because doing so was unfashionable.