In 1983, John Charles Thomas was sworn in as the youngest Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia—and he was the first Black person to rest his hand upon that bible, reciting such a pivotal oath. He had grown up in poverty, with the gut-wrenching effects of alcoholism, violence, and segregation shaping his life in Norfolk.

Described as “no feel-good story or fable but a real-life journey,” his memoir, The Poetic Justice, reflects his twin loves of the law, and of poetry, taking readers around the world to meetings with world leaders, and keeping them rooted to the urgent issues that rock our communities. He will be in conversation with Risa Goluboff, Dean of the University of Virginia School of Law.


Presented with James Monroe’s Highland.

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