Anita Hill: Still Standing Up and Speaking Out – Clarence Thomas still a Pig…
By Michele Weldon Assistant professor of journalism, Northwestern University,Hufpo – She is still my hero. And today she gave me goosebumps yet again.
Twenty-one years after I first wrote about her in a column for the Chicago Tribune, I listened to Anita Hill, author and law professor, author, advocate and whistle-blowing dragon-slayer, speak to a ballroom of 1,500 women and some men about standing up and speaking the truth.
“This is me, sans the green suit. I am here today to say I am still standing,” Hill told the supportive and empathetic crowd at the Chicago Foundation for Women’s 27th annual luncheon in Chicago Thursday.
“Yes, I would do it again.”
The Brandeis University professor of social policy, law and women’s studies was talking about her ground-breaking, nerve-shattering testimony in 1991 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. There she talked about his repetitive, relentless sexual harassment of her.
Thomas went on to the Supreme Court anyway, but the world was watching and listening. And if we all did not act upon her words in our own lives, her words resonated and percolated within us. For me, she sparked the strength within me that eventually grew too loud to ignore.
When I first saw Anita Hill stand up to the truth, I was working as a freelance journalist and tending to my 3-year-old and 9-month old sons, married to man I later divorced. I was cheering her on. How brave she was. How proud I was of her.
I wrote this about Hill for the Chicago Tribune’s “Her Say” column:
Day after day from their elevated seats, the committee members acted like the elitist old guard, badgering Hill and her corroborators, and avoiding compromising questions of the judge accused of inexcusably sexist conduct. And just like the boys in the clubhouse after a rousing 18 holes of golf, the senators repeatedly congratulated each other on their fairness and integrity. Throughout the record, laurels are thrown, trophies offered.
And though there was some infighting among the good old boys about procedures, FBI reports, polygraph tests and admissibility, the senators were one in their exclusionary treatment of the outsiders. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) was belligerent to Hill regarding her capacity to remember specifics. Sen. Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) was insulting when he asked Hill if the reason she brought up these allegations were because she was a “scorned woman,” had a “martyr complex” or was “out of touch with reality.” Read more…
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