On October 11, 1991, then 35-year-old, University of Oklahoma law professor, Anita Hill went before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings and changed the workplace for women and men. In 2013, ANITA, a documentary directed by Freida Lee Mock, captured Hill’s extraordinary story, offering “a dramatic look at the consequences to a private citizen acting out of a civic duty to ‘speak truth to power.'” If you’ve never seen it, you should (film trailer above).
Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when she worked for him at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) between 1981 and 1983. Her testimony was a part of the confirmation hearings to appoint Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
The nationally televised Thomas-Hill hearings brought the issues of sexual harassment and women’s rights in the workplace out of the silent shadows and to the public’s attention. Hill’s testimony ignited “a political firestorm about sexual harassment, race, power and politics” that sadly and infuriatingly still resonates today – 27 years later – especially in the wake of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s courageous delivery of her testimony against Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate Judiciary Committee just yesterday. Ford has accused the current Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.
Despite Anita Hill’s testimony, Clarence Thomas was confirmed, 52 to 48, one of the narrowest votes in American history, and has continued to sit on the Supreme Court ever since. But as a direct result of her testimony, laws prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment were put into place across the country.
Freida Lee Mock’s documentary ANITA was the first time on film that Anita Hill spoke about “her experience in the Senate Hearings, her impact on issues of sexual harassment, workplace rights for women and men, social justice and equality.” You can watch ANITA now via Amazon Prime.