The Impact of Anita Hill: Then and Now

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twenty years ago the country watched a political drama unfold onscreen. Clarence Thomas, then a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush in July of 1991. He went through the usual battery of Senate questioning in September. His confirmation seemed controversial but likely, until a young law professor named Anita Hill changed him with sexual harassment. The Hill-Thomas hearings riveted the nation.

Patricia Williams is a professor at Columbia Law school and watched the Hill-Thomas hearings closely. Emily May is the founder and executive director of Hollaback, an international movement to end street harrassment. May was only ten years old in 1991, but she remembers the hearings vividly.

Comments [2]

Jeanne LaShelle from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

20 years ago, my Mother had gone into remission and my Sisters, our Mother and I went to lunch to celebrate and wait for the verdict. We had such a lively discussion, our Mother, a professional nurse had never breached the subject but was quite incensed at the notion Justice Thomas would be taken seriously. We were all taken aback and vowed to never allow this to happen to anyone we cared about. Anita Hill was the hero of the day, and still is.

Oct. 12 2011 10:32 AM
Karen Sauvigne from NYC

Anita Hill's testimony (I was glued to the TV and made dinner plans with friends to allow watching Thomas' response) changed the landscape of acceptable workplace behavior. Others, including Working Women's Institute (I was a co-founder) had laid the groundwork, and Thomas' predecessor at EEOC, Eleanor Holmes Norton, had issued guidelines against workplace harassment. But Anita Hill's appearance brought the attention to harassment that mobilized change.

Oct. 12 2011 08:20 AM

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