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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, syndicated columnist, author, and social theorist who is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is frequently referred to as a black conservative due to his antiquated assessments of economic theories, which encourage hard labor and independence. Before assuming his current position, he taught at Howard University, Rutgers University, Cornell University, Brandeis University, Amherst College, and the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to his two years of military service during the Korean War, he worked for the United States Department of Labor. As a columnist, he has written for numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications of renown. In his writing tenure, he has published over 30 books, including ‘Race and Economics’, ‘A Conflict of Visions’, ‘The Vision of the Anointed’, ‘Black Rednecks and White Liberals’, and ‘Intellectuals and Race’. Despite criticism of his controversial views, he is regarded as one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of his generation.

Youth and Early Life

Thomas Sowell was born in Gastonia, North Carolina on June 30, 1930. His mother, a housemaid, was unable to support her five children after his father died shortly before his birth, so she sent him to an aunt and her two grown daughters, who adopted and reared him.

During the Great Migration of African-Americans, Sowell moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Harlem, New York City, with his family. There, he was accepted into the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, becoming the first member of his family to continue his education beyond the sixth grade.

Due to financial difficulties, his academic career was interrupted at the age of 17, after which he worked a variety of occupations, including one as a delivery man for Western Union. In 1951, during the Korean War, he was drafted into the military, but he was trained as a Marine Corps photographer instead of being sent to Korea due to his photography abilities.

After two years of military service, he obtained a civil service position in Washington, D.C., and enrolled in night classes at Howard University, a historically black institution. He obtained excellent scores on the College Board examinations and was admitted to Harvard University with the support of two professors’ recommendations.

After receiving his magna cum laude in 1958, he completed his Master’s degree the following year at Columbia University. In 1968, he received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago under the supervision of George Stigler for his dissertation titled “Say’s Law and the General Glut Controversy.”

Thomas’s Professional Profession

Thomas Sowell’s first professional publication, Karl Marx and the Freedom of the Individual (1963) was a sympathetic examination of Marxist theory versus Marxist–Leninist practice. Sowell was a Marxist in his twenties. After interning for the federal government during the summer of 1960, he ultimately dismissed Marxist economics in favor of the free-market theory.

After serving as an economist for the United States Department of Labor from 1960 to 1961, he taught economics at Howard University from 1963 to 1964. In 1964, he subsequently became an economic analyst for AT&T. From 1965 to 1969, he served as an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University, where he witnessed the violent seizure of Willard Straight Hall by black students.

Thirty years later, he wrote in the article ‘The Day Cornell Died’ that those students were “hoodlums” with “serious academic problems” and that he had never experienced “the supposedly pervasive racism that black students encountered.”

After a brief tenure at Brandeis College between 1969 and 1970, he joined the University of California, Los Angeles as an assistant professor of economics in 1969 and was promoted to full professor in 1974. Between 1972 and 1974, he also served as the Urban Institute’s project director.

During his tenure at UCLA, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from 1976 to 1977 and at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in 1977. In 1980, he became a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and was awarded a fellowship honoring his mentors Milton and Rose Friedman.

Thomas’s Writing Work

Thomas Sowell, an academic economist, and syndicated columnist penned columns for Forbes magazine, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and The New York Post, among other prominent newspapers. In addition, he contributed to online publications including RealClearPolitics, Townhall, WorldNetDaily, and Jewish World Review.

Beginning with ‘Economics: Analysis and Issues in 1971, he has published nearly one book per year. Say’s Law: An Historical Analysis, published in 1972, provides a thorough examination of the concept that “supply creates its own demand.”

In his 1975 book, “Race and Economics,” he examines the relationship between race and wealth in the United States, concentrating on blacks. During the early 1980s, he published a number of volumes, beginning with “Knowledge and Decisions,” in which he explains how social and economic knowledge is transmitted and how this impacts decisions.

In ‘A Conflict of Visions’, the first book of his trilogy on ideologies and political positions, published in 1987, he attempts to explain why political groups frequently conflict over vastly different ideas. It was followed by ‘The Vision of the Anointed’ (1995), which contrasts the conservative/libertarian and liberal/progressive worldviews, and ‘The Quest for Cosmic Justice’ (2002), which demonstrates how distorted conceptions of justice promote injustice.

He argued in a number of books that black progress is not the result of progressive government programs or policies, and that a number of so-called problems faced by black people are not unique. These books consist of ‘The Economics and Politics of Race’ (1983), ‘Ethnic America’ (1981), ‘Affirmative Action Around the World’ (2004), and ‘Black Rednecks and White Liberals (2005), among others.

In his 2002 book on the subject, he opined that many children diagnosed with autism are actually affected by asynchronous development, in which rapid brain development disrupts other functions, which he termed Einstein syndrome. According to his 2013 book, “Intellectuals and Race,” the roughly 15-point difference in contemporary black–white IQ scores is identical to the gap previously observed between the national average and ethnic whites.

Thomas’s Major Opera

The thirty-plus books written by Thomas Sowell to date have been praised for their originality, great depth, and breadth, clarity of expression, and exhaustive research. His works range in subject matter from Marxian economics to race, education, and decision-making to developmental disorders.

Awards & Achievements

Thomas Sowell received the ‘Francis Boyer Award’ in 1990. He received the ‘Sydney Hook Award’ in 1998. He was honored with the ‘National Humanities Medal’ in 2002 and the ‘Bradley Prize’ in 2003. In 2004, his book ‘Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One’ was awarded the ‘Laissez Faire Books Lysander Spooner Award.

Personal History and Legacy

Alma Jean Parr was Thomas Sowell’s first wife, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975. He married Mary Ash in 1981, and they have two children, John and Lorraine.

Estimated Net Worth

Thomas is one of the wealthiest and most well-known novelists. Thomas Sowell has a net worth of $5 million, per our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.