Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participated in a rare onstage interview at the Library of Congress on Thursday, where he talked about being "worn down" from the victimhood culture in today's society.
The moderator said that Thomas, the second African-American Supreme Court Justice, grew up without water or electricity and that his house burned down when he was seven years old, forcing him and his younger brother to go live with their maternal grandparents in Savannah, Ga.
"At some point, we’re going to be fatigued with everybody being the victim," Thomas said before talking about his grandfather.
Thomas called his grandfather the "single greatest human being" and role model that he has ever met.
"With nine months of education, but he never saw himself as a victim. He used to say that he was a motherless child. He never knew his father. His mother died when he was seven or eight years old," Thomas said. "Of course they didn't have birth certificates then, so he never knew quite how old he was."
He went on to talk about how his grandfather never complained about his hardships growing up and that he would always have a saying for his grandkids when they tried to complain.
"You always have to play the hand you're dealt. If you're dealt a bad hand, you still have to play it," Thomas said. "When we would whine about things, if you look at the bust in my office that my wonderful wife had made for me when I went on the court. His favorite quote was ‘Old man can't is dead. I helped bury him.'"
Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.