BLACK VOICES

Anita Hill On Why Her Testimony Still Matters 25 Years Later

Hill spoke about her case and the importance of black women having a voice in politics.
Anita Hill was a law student who testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas for allegedly sexually harrassi
Anita Hill was a law student who testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas for allegedly sexually harrassing her.

Twenty-five years after law professor Anita Hill accused then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, HBO is bringing her story back to the forefront.

The film, "Confirmation," starring Kerry Washington as Hill and Wendell Pierce as Thomas, depicts the three-day confirmation hearing in which Hill testified against the nominee who went on to succeed Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice, in 1991.

In the face of an all-white male panel's explicit, sexist questioning and being accused by the public of betraying her race (Thomas called the hearing a "high-tech lynching"), Hill stood firm in her testimony. Her steadfast conviction opened the door for more black women to demand political power and helped empower all women to address issues of sexism and sexual violence in the workplace and beyond. 

During a recent interview on the weight of her testimony with Melissa Harris-Perry for Essence, Hill said it was her duty to let her voice be heard.

"I knew that there was a risk in speaking, but I also knew that it was a responsibility I had as a citizen," Hill told Harris-Perry. But it was essential that Congress realized that black men didn't speak for black women, only black women can do that.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called the three-day hearing a "modern-day lynching."
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called the three-day hearing a "modern-day lynching."

"For an African-American woman to have her own political voice and own political position, and to believe that our perspective should be added to the conversation, was just something they hadn’t even considered."

Despite 28 women -- including the first black senator, Carol Moseley Braun -- being elected to Congress in the aftermath of Thomas' confirmation, Hill said she wants the country to reflect on what would've happened had Congress conducted a thorough investigation into Hill's claims.

"What if they had reflected best practices?" she asked. "How much pain and anguish could they have saved American women? How might that have changed the way women in this country think about our workplaces and about how we are represented in our government? That’s the question I want people to be asking 25 years later -- what if they had done the right thing and not the politically expedient thing?"

Hill, who applauded Washington for her portrayal, continues her mission to advocate for women today. She's currently working on a project aimed at increasing awareness of how Title IX can help all girls and women, especially those of color. 

Read the full interview at Essence and watch the trailer for "Confirmation," which premieres April 16 below.

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