One of the books my son and I read for our 20th century studies last year was the autobiography, Clarence Thomas: My Grandfather's Son. I remember when I first heard of him, when he was going through the Congressional hearings in regards to President George H. W. Bush's appointing him to the Supreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall. Thomas' story is a must read!
As always with our classical studies, I integrated the reading of various portions of the book to coordinate with the era of history we were learning. Bit by bit, an entire chunk of a "big person book" is easily accomplished!
Since the book began with Thomas' life as a boy in the late 1950's, we picked up the reading of this book during our study of the Eisenhower years. As Thomas grew up, we learned about the strong work ethic he learned from his grandfather, as well as lessons about keeping to his own side of town, due to danger from racial tensions. Because Thomas is an African-American who grew up in the Deep South, we gained personal insight into the difficulties he and other African-Americans faced. As we progressed through our weekly studies of each president of the late 20th century, we added the appropriate pages of the book where Thomas grew up, attended college, and began a legal practice during which he shared how he formed his political opinions, which was understandably driven greatly by the Civil Rights movement.
Then we entered the Reagan years. By now we had learned that Thomas, through great thinking of the cause and effect of the Civil Rights movement, as well as starting to read from the classics of the Great Books list, he changed his opinion of the Civil Rights movement. (Despite your political affilliation, do read his book to read his own words and thought process of how he came to this decision.) In fact, he became a Republican just to vote for Ronald Reagan. Soon he was in Washington DC working for the Reagan administration for the Civil Rights department where he effected change and phenomenally increased efficiency.
During the George H. W. Bush administration, the president appointed him to be a federal judge and later to the Supreme Court. Thomas shares he did not fight for these positions. He endured strong opposition against him. Nevertheless he shares how he worked through all the drama to eventually become the next Supreme Court justice in 1991.
I highly recommend this book!