Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, Thomas Sowell left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Thomas Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics.
After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), Thomas Sowell went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968).
In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T. But his real interest was in teaching and scholarship. In 1965, at Cornell University, Sowell began the first of many professorships. Thomas Sowell's other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst College, Brandeis University and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he taught in the early '70s and also from 1984 to 1989.
Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Moreover, much of his writing is considered ground-breaking -- work that will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today.
Though Thomas Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. George F. Will's writing, says Sowell, proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing.
In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.
Currently Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, Calif.
One of the many painful signs of the mindlessness of our times was a recent section of the Wall Street Journal, built around the theme "What's Holding Women Back in the Workplace?"
Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of "affordable housing," as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.
Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.
A hostile review of my new book -- "Wealth, Poverty and Politics" -- said, "there is apparently no level of inequality of income or opportunity that Thomas Sowell would consider unacceptable."
In a country with more than 300 million people, it is remarkable how obsessed the media have become with just one -- Donald Trump. What is even more remarkable is that, after six years of repeated disasters, both domestically and internationally, under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor.
The refugee crisis in Europe is one of those human tragedies for which there are no real solutions, despite how many shrill voices in the media may denounce those who fail to come up with a solution.
Even those of us who are not supporters of either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush can learn something by comparing how each of these men handled people who tried to disrupt their question-and-answer period after a speech.
Despite a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon, the media seem to be putting most of their attention on two candidates for their respective parties' presidential nominations next year. Moreover, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each make their own party nervous.
One of the most lame excuses for doing nothing is that we can't do everything. Such excuses have been repeated endlessly, even by some conservatives, when it comes to illegal immigration.
Random thoughts on the passing scene: Stupid people can cause problems, but it usually takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe.
The so-called "debates," among too many Republicans to have a debate, are yet another painful sign of how much words and ideas have degenerated in our times.
With Hillary Clinton's multiple misdeeds coming to light and causing her political problems, reflected in her declining support in the polls, both she and the Democratic Party have reason to be concerned. But both of them may yet be rescued by "The Donald," who can turn out to be their Trump card.
People who entered the United States illegally may be called "undocumented" in politically correct circles, but what is all too well documented is the utter irresponsibility of both political parties in dealing with immigration issues.
There is no way to know what is going on in someone else's mind. But sometimes their behavior tells you more than their words.
Changing the goal after the fact is just one of the ways the left has portrayed its failures as successes.
Distinguished scientist Freeman Dyson has called the 1433 decision of the emperor of China to discontinue his country's exploration of the outside world the "worst political blunder in the history of civilization."
In the wake of the recent murders in a South Carolina church, the killer's hope of igniting a race war produced the opposite effect. Blacks and whites in South Carolina came together to condemn his act and the race hate behind it.
After my 85th birthday last week, I looked back over my life and was surprised to discover in how many different ways I had been lucky, in addition to some other ways in which I was unlucky.
Discussions of racial problems almost invariably bring out the cliche of "a legacy of slavery."