Filmmaker Michael Pack reflected on his impactful documentary, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” and what the enigmatic Supreme Court justice was like behind the scenes during Pack’s unprecedented 30-hour interview with him and his wife, Virginia. The film is available to stream on Fox Nation today.
“I have found that he is very warm and funny, despite what some people think his reputation is,” Pack said in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“He loves to laugh,” Pack added. “He’s famous for his great laugh. He has a huge, bellowing laugh that shows just a deep joy in life, which is great to hear…It was really a pleasure to work with him.”
And it was a marvel Thomas still has a sense of humor, Pack suggested, considering the struggles the Black conservative justice has overcome and the racist attacks he’s weathered throughout his career.
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Thomas grew up in poverty in the 1950s segregated South. His father left him before he could remember, after which he lived with his grandfather and endured a strict upbringing he later rejected.
He encountered even more roadblocks when he became a public figure. Upon joining the administration of President Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s, Thomas was “attacked viciously by the left,” Pack said.
Among his critics were those who called him an Uncle Tom and a leading liberal journalist at the time who compared him to “chicken-eating preachers” taking “crumbs from the white man’s table.” Later, another cartoon would depict him as a shoeshine boy to Justice Antonin Scalia.
“People should just tell the truth: ‘This is the wrong black guy; he has to be destroyed’,'” Thomas said in the documentary of the often racist insults.
Pack described the vicious invective as “things that you really could not say about anybody else except a conservative Black person.”
“It’s a special burden that Black conservatives suffer under,” the director echoed.
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The attacks only worsened once President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to serve on the Supreme Court in 1991. In one of the most contentious confirmation processes in history, Thomas was accused of sexually harassing a former staffer, Anita Hill. He vehemently denied the allegations and told the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., that he “would rather die than withdraw” from the process.
By the time Thomas found out he had weathered the storm and won, he was utterly deflated and in no mood for celebrations.
Pack asked the justice to relive that anxious period in the course of their interview. The director said he sensed not so much a sadness “as a feeling that the process he was put through was unfair and illegitimate — and I think it makes him angry even to this day.” Or, he suggested, it at least got “rekindled” in the interview.
The bias against the conservative justice appears to have followed him to the present day. Republican lawmakers and other Thomas supporters were outraged when they learned the only reference to Thomas in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was in an exhibit about Anita Hill. It wasn’t until a massive uproar that the museum was forced to introduce a new exhibit highlighting Thomas’ career. But Pack said that, too, was insufficient, because it was included in a display alongside former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
“It’s an afterthought and they implicitly even compare him unfavorably to Thurgood Marshall,” Pack noted.
Despite all the forces against him, Thomas has a long list of accomplishments to his name.
For Pack, the biggest takeaway from the film was Thomas’s “unwillingness to think of himself as a victim in spite of all the struggles.”
“He has this resilience — it’s inspiring,” Pack concluded.
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Cortney O’Brien is an Editor at Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienc2.