Last updated 5/31/2021 at 10:18am
My wife and I have had a hero for 40 years: Thomas Sowell, 90 years young and one of America’s greatest intellectuals. Born in the segregated South, raised in Harlem, he served as a U.S. Marine in Korea during the war. A Marxist as a young man, he soon changed. Sowell studied under Milton Freidman and received his doctorate in economics with highest honors at the University of Chicago.
Author of 30 books, he wrote a sophisticated syndicated column published in the nation’s leading newspapers. He taught at many major universities. For 40 years he has served as the Senior Fellow in economics, social and political science at Stanford University and has won every major U.S. award for his economic publications.
Known for his disdain of self-promotion, finally the biography of his life and work has just been published. Titled “Maverick,” it was written by Jason Riley, the distinguished Black author and is the subject of a full page article in a very recent edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Eschewing political party designation, when pressed he will nevertheless prefer to be called a Libertarian. His columns pull no punches. He deals with the proof and facts of societal questions and disdains affirmative action and quotas, unlike today’s media. He dealt with today’s “Elephants in the room” (the idiom defined as facts and issues proven to be statistically accurate and factual, but which are seldom mentioned because in some circles they are considered racist and dangerous.) For example, he has written books and columns over the years on racial advancement, or the lack of it, and education issues.
My favorite Sowell book title is “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.” When once told that people said he was tough, he said, “I’m not tough – I’m merely trying to acquaint you with the facts.”
Thomas Sowell is a national treasure. When I think of him, I also remember what my young, brilliant Black junior law partner once opined to me many years ago: “Jack, my people will never really get ahead until they stop listening to those stupid reverends and political leaders.”
Thanks to Sowell for enriching our education and our lives.
Jack and Meriam Matthews