One of Us
Brer Fox tried time and time again to catch Brer Rabbit, and he came mighty near catching him, but time and time again Brer Rabbit got away.
By the summer of 1991, time finally had claimed one of the giants of the civil rights movement, Thurgood Marshall. As counsel for the NAACP, Marshall had argued the winning side in Brown v. Board of Education. A little over a decade later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court, making him the first black man to hold a seat there. Even while sitting silently in oral argument, he was an imposing man, with owlish eyes, strong nose and pursed lips that seemed to suggest a continuing disdain for the course of national affairs. Marshall became a reliable liberal on the court, although court insiders noted that as age set in, he became more a fan of daytime television than of grinding out court opinions.
On June 27, Marshall finally deferred to failing health, announcing in a letter that he was resigning from the court. The justice's secretary delivered the letter to the White House at around lunchtime. This set off a commotion and, in short order, a well-coordinated search to find a replacement. That led very quickly to Clarence Thomas.
As Marshall's letter was arriving at the White House, Thomas was shopping with Jamal for some training shoes. He went to his chambers afterward, then left for a late lunch with a former law clerk. Upon returning to the courthouse, one of his clerks informed Thomas of the news: Marshall had announced his retirement; Boyden Gray had called and asked Thomas to attend a meeting at the Justice Department at 4:30 that afternoon.
Thomas arrived at the designated time and, as he recalled, was soon "spirited to the situation room at the Justice Department." It was "a