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Clarence Thomas at Baltimore Book Party

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was at the Baltimore County home of Sincalir Broadcast Group president David D. Smith on Saturday night to promote his new book, "My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir." He told the audience of lawyers and others that his book tour has reinforced his belief that hardship is no excuse to "whine," or be angry about life.

Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, and Robert M. Bell, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, were among those in the backyard nibbling on tiny BLT's and shrimp creole. Smith introduced Thomas by saying, "Tonight we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are all Americans."

Thomas, standing on Smith's concrete fence, talked about his grandparents and other people in his life who were inspirations for the book, such as an old friend from Omaha who was stricken with polio at 15.

"He never allowed that wheelchair define him or the immobility in his limbs to define him," Thomas told the gathering. "Looking at him, he is not bitter, he is not mean, he never gave up. How could I whine?"

One of those in the audience, Baltimore City State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy, said that even though she has a different perception of Thomas after seeing him in person, she remains concerned about his views on affirmative action.

"He talks about those things that most black people that I know believe in, which are hard work, dedication and persistence," Jessamy said. "I think that racism has done us a lot of damage and I don't know if he really understands that we don't all respond to that the same way. "

Carson, a longtime Thomas friend, said it was good that he ventured beyond the court to talk with people. "I have been encouraging him for a long time to come out and tell his story because he has wonderful American story,'' Carson said.

-- Hamil R. Harris

By Anne Bartlett  |  October 29, 2007; 1:09 PM ET
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