Clarence Thomas: A Biography

By Andrew Peyton Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
The Monkey on His Back

By the time Thomas arrived in the summer of 1971, Yale too had experienced its radical moment. The arrest and trial of Bobby Seale and the other members of the so-called New Haven Nine the year before had set off campus demonstrations that culminated in violence and a moratorium on classes. Around the edge of campus, the Black Panthers sold newspapers advising readers on the use of firearms, which could be employed to "Off the pigs!" Although founded by the same busy Puritan colony that had sent out a tendril to Liberty County, Georgia, Yale had become a cauldron of racial animosities and far-left politics when Thomas and his new wife drove south from Worcester and set up their modest household just off campus.

Thomas and Kathy moved into a small, Yale-owned apartment on Prospect Street less than a mile from the law school. They lived on the upper floor of one of the simple, two-story, red-brick rectangles that provided student housing in the little Esplanade Apartments complex.

In a season that should have been rapturous for the couple, something greatly disturbed Thomas, possibly regrets about the marriage. He described the summer of 1971 as "perhaps one of the most difficult of my life." In the years to come, he gave only a few ambiguous details about the source of his malaise:

It was clear to me that the road to destruction was paved with anger, resentment and rage. But where were we to go? I would often spend hours in our small efficiency apartment in New Haven pondering this question and listening to Marvin Gaye's then new album, "What's Going On?" To say the least, it was a depressing summer.

Thomas had received a summer grant from the Law Students' Civil Rights Research Council, and spent most of his summer days working at the New Haven Legal Assistance Office. Located in an older,

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