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Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas: ‘His Confirmation to the Highest Court in the Land …'”

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Rosa Parks said of Clarence Thomas, in part: "His confirmation to the highest court in the land would not represent a step forward in the road to racial progress but a u-turn on that road ... His statements on Brown v. Board of Education case [] and even on the Roe v. Wade to me indicate that he wants to push the clock back ... "

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On July 4 2022, a pair of tweets purportedly quoting civil rights activist Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas began circulating as part of ongoing discourse about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade just before the Fourth of July:

Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas: ‘H...
Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas: ‘His Confirmation to the Highest Court in the Land …'”

Along with an image of Parks, the quoted material spread across the tweets read in full:

Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas: “His confirmation to the highest court in the land would not represent a step forward in the road to racial progress but a u-turn on that road. …His statements on Brown v. Board of Education case..and even on the Roe v. Wade to me indicate that he wants to push the clock back. …The Supreme Court now appears to be turning its back on the undeniable fact of discrimination and exclusion …I believe that Judge Thomas will accelerate that trend and that will be destructive for our nation.”

The first tweet received significant engagement, but a search for “His confirmation to the highest court in the land would not represent a step forward in the road to racial progress” (without the names of Parks or Thomas) returned a total of 15 Google results. The first few of linked to the tweet itself or content referring to it, and the remaining links led to websites with dynamic embedded Twitter feeds where retweets of the tweet appeared.

The commentary attributed to Parks ended up not being readily available or searchable in transcribed form. But a third tweet in the thread had far less engagement, and provided the Library of Congress as a citation:

That link led to a document hosted on the Library of Congress site, “Rosa Parks Papers: Writings, Notes, and Statements, 1956-1998; Statements; Nomination of Clarence Thomas, 1991.” Scans of the typed letter were available; a transcribed copy read in full:

STATEMENT OF MS. ROSA PARKS
On the Nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas
To the United States Supreme Court
September 13, 1991

Without a doubt, Judge Thomas has achieved a remarkable success in his career, raising himself up from humble beginnings to the nomination for the highest court in the land. That is to his great credit and I applaud him for it.

Yet I have to believe that his confirmation to the highest court in the land would not represent a step forward in the road to racial progress but a U-turn on that road. The record and rhetoric of the man leaves me little confidence that his confirmation would in any way help address the profound racial problems and divisions that drag our country down. His statements on the Brown v. Board of Education case on affirmative action, and even on the Roe v. Wade to me indicate that he wants to push to clock back.

African Americans I believe want to have confidence in the promise of the courts, we want to believe that they are a place we can turn for the redress of the racial discrimination and many deprivations that are still clearly rampant in our country. The Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education instilled in us the hope nearly forty years ago as did many others that subsequently followed.

Yet much has changed in recent years. The Supreme Court now appears to be turning its back on the undeniable fact of discrimination and exclusion, ruling that anti-discrimination laws and remedies have gone too far. I believe that Judge Thomas will accelerate that trend and that will be destructive for our nation.

A viral tweet purportedly quoted Rosa Parks on Clarence Thomas, commentary which was both authentic and surprisingly obscure; the Library of Congress’ transcript was absent from our initial Google search results. Parks wrote the commentary in a letter dated September 13 1991, with the subject line “On the Nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas.” The tweet accurately quoted Parks, and the Twitter account provided a strong citation later in the thread.