When he graduated from high school 41 years ago, Thomas said attending the University of Georgia in Athens "was not an option" because schools in Georgia were still largely segregated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.
Thomas, who grew up in Pin Point, Ga., told students he was happy to be back at the school, UGA, where he gave the law school commencement address in 2003.
"Georgia is my home," he said. "Georgia is where I belong."
The UGA administration had come under fire from some faculty members for inviting Thomas because of allegations of sexual harassment brought against him 17 years ago during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Thomas -- who seldom gives interviews, and has been criticized for not asking questions from the bench -- appeared uncomfortable Saturday straying from prepared remarks, the newspaper reported.
At least twice he misread what was written, and doubled back to correct himself during his 22 minute speech.
"The rewards of self-indulgence are not nearly as great as the rewards of self-discipline," he told students.