Anita Hill comes to Columbia

Anita Hill, the young law professor who in 1991 sparked a nationwide conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace, visited Columbia last week. More than 700 women—and a few dozen men—came to hear her and cheer her on.

Professor Hill was the guest of honor September 15 at the 25th annual “I Believe Anita Hill!” Party, the longest-running, continuous event in the United States that voices support for Hill and seeks to highlight gender inequality issues.

Now a social policy and law professor at Brandeis University, Hill was introduced to the large, enthusiastic crowd as a “reluctant hero who stood her ground, and she told the truth.”

The event has continued to grow. This year’s party, which had more than 90 hosts, was the biggest yet. The nonpartisan gathering encourages women to network, to tell their stories, and to get involved in ways that help women and the community.

Hill told the crowd that “I want people to know that I truly have a blessed life. But don’t underestimate how difficult it is for people to come forward, even today. It is still difficult. The pain does not end, and in some cases, it is just the beginning.”

Hill said she is “eternally grateful” for the support she has received over the years. She told of one letter from a schoolteacher, sent to her shortly after the 1991 hearings, that predicted “there will be waves of women behind you.”

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Hundreds celebrate 25th anniversary of Anita Hill’s mark for women’s rights – Columbia, South Carolina

Hundreds were out in Columbia Thursday evening to look back on a major step in the fight for women’s rights.

Attorney Anita Hill was back in the Capital City to talk about the role she played in that struggle. It was the fall of 1991 when Hill went before lawmakers in the U.S. Senate. Hill testified that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was a nominee for the office at the time, sexually harassed her while she was working under him at the U.S. Department of Education.

The event put a new focus on sexual harassment in the workplace. Hill and her supporters say since that time, they believe progress has been made for women in the working world. They do, however, say more needs to be done, including narrowing the wage gap between genders.

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I believe Anita who?

The I Believe Anita Hill Party was Sept. 15, and it has students thinking about the history of Anita Hill and what her story means for women everywhere.

In 1991, Anita Hill, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma at the time, came forward with allegations that Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Justice nominee under President George H. W. Bush, had sexually harassed her during the time she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Anita Hill’s courage to speak out has been a catalyst for victims of sexual harassment to bring their stories to light and a remarkable leap forward for women,” Andy Herrington, junior computer and information science major, said.

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Anita Hill party goers inspired by Hill, female presidential nominee

For 25 years, a Columbia group has gathered annually to mark the testimony of Anita Hill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 about alleged sexual harassment by her former supervisor, Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court.

This year, they heard from Hill herself and also considered the possibility of the first woman president of the United States.

Siegler, a freshman at Columbia College, said her male high school classmates in Aiken told her there was no way a woman would lead the country.

But, with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president, that possibility is “really inspiring,” Siegler said.

Hill addressed the packed gathering at 701 Whaley on Thursday, telling the mostly female crowd, “I don’t want you to forget (how difficult) it is for people to come forward even today.

Anita Hill to return to Columbia for 25th anniversary of historic hearings

In the aftermath of the hearings, a band of women met in Columbia to discuss how they might seize upon the moment conjured by Hill’s testimony in order to address the pervasive inequalities they felt existed toward women.

“We started getting together and talking about what we could do,” said Eve Stacey, another one of the original event organizers. “What we came up with was a social event, and networking. It started small. It has evolved over the years.”

Two large banners were strung up between trees spanning the entrance sidewalk to Smith’s home to welcome people to the first “I Believe Anita Hill” event as autumn approached in 1991. A table was set up so that people could sign in.

“The number of women who showed up was much more than expected. It was amazing!” Smith said.

Organizers endeavored to create an opportunity for women to come together, share their stories and build a network of mutual support. It has been 25 years since the inaugural gathering, and organizers’ hopes are high that the 25th annual “I Believe Anita Hill” event will continue to exceed expectations. Hill, currently a professor of law, public policy and women’s studies at Brandeis University, is scheduled to be present for this year’s event.

Hill also will be speaking at the University of South Carolina School of Law auditorium during her visit to Columbia.

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Sexual Harassment Training With Roger Ailes

Two high-profile lawsuits against Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chairman, have painted a shocking picture of brazen sexual harassment at the network. In her bombshell complaint against him, the former Fox host Gretchen Carlson said that he told her, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” Last week, another former Fox host, Andrea Tantaros, filed her own lawsuit, stating that Mr. Ailes told her to turn around so he could “get a good look” at her and that she was harassed by other employees and even show guests.

The details both women lay out portray Fox as a place where sexual harassers roam free, grabbing or ogling whatever they fancy, with consequences brought to bear only on the victims who speak up.

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After Ailes and Cosby, a Moment for More Women to Speak Up

In the fall of 1991, an obscure law professor named Anita Hill pushed the issue of sexual harassment into the public consciousness when she accused her former boss, the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, of having repeatedly made lewd overtures toward her.

But the episode sent a mixed message, in the view of many discrimination experts. While it raised awareness about a corrosive workplace behavior, the intense backlash against Ms. Hill, not least from members of the United States Senate, suggested that women faced great obstacles in redressing such abuses. (Mr. Thomas denied the allegations.)

Nearly 25 years later, after a string of sexual harassment allegations that led to the ouster of Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, and a cascade of sexual assault accusations against the comedian Bill Cosby, some of those experts believe we may be approaching another Anita Hill moment.

The Ailes and Cosby cases, they say, could be influential among women across the work force not just because of the intrinsic power of these examples, but because they come at a moment of empowerment for women in their struggle for equality. And when women’s assertiveness produces dramatic results like the resignation of Mr. Ailes, it can inspire more women to follow the same path.

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Still Thinking About Anita Hill

It was a slightly out-of-body experience, watching the recent television series “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Part déjà vu, part lurid fascination and horror, it reminded me of watching “Anita,” the 2013 documentary on the law professor Anita Hill’s life during and after her testimony against the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his confirmation hearings. I was a child when Simpson was found not guilty, in 1995, but I remember people I knew celebrating, people who believed that a black man’s triumph against a corrupt and racist justice system was overdue. Even though many of these same people acknowledged that Simpson probably did it, his release was seen as a necessary sacrifice. As an adult, watching “The People v. O. J. Simpson” was enraging. The judgment seemed like a betrayal of women’s bodies and women’s voices. Watching “Anita” was even more maddening: the proceedings were a betrayal not just of women but of a particular kind of black woman who had to navigate the landmines of both gender and race.

Near the end of “Anita,” there is footage of Hill speaking at an event at Hunter College, in 2011. After the speech, a young woman sobs uncontrollably as she asks Hill how she got through her experience. Her emotion is understandable: years later, the mistreatment of Hill is still shocking. In “Confirmation,” a recent HBO film about the Thomas hearings, that treatment was again in plain view on our television sets, making us question how much has changed. Kerry Washington, who played Hill and who was an executive producer on the film, was strikingly understated in the role. In what was a leap from her at-times histrionic character on the TV show “Scandal,” Washington nailed Hill’s reserved, soft-spoken way of speaking and her unobtrusive demeanor. If anything, the performance was too muted. As a viewer, I wanted to see Hill fight more, but what should have really happened, in real life, is that the country and the institutions of power should have fought against her less.

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The Woman Not Called During the Clarence Thomas Hearings

The political theater that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, and Anita Hill and the issue of sexual harassment in the national conversation happened in 1991, but the recent HBO movie “Confirmation”  rehashed those debates.

Angela Wright Shannon, then known as Angela Wright — or the other woman who accused Thomas of inappropriate words and behavior — got to see herself portrayed by Academy Award-winning Jennifer Hudson in that film, which she was asked to consult on but chose not to. She heard characters repeat the words of a column she wrote, not for publication but for a writing sample, which was leaked to the office of Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Joseph Biden  and led to a subpoena.

[Related: At Stake in Anita Hill movie: Joe Biden’s Legacy] When I was features editor of The Charlotte Observer in the mid-1990s, Shannon was a reporter on my staff. She had worked for Thomas in the 1980s as director of public affairs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Now 61, she works in Charlotte as a freelance writer, editor and actor and cares for her 50-year-old developmentally delayed and deaf sister, Cheryl. After watching the HBO movie, she decided she still had something to say.

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Anita Hill Taught Us a Lesson That Today’s Obstructionist Republicans Have Forgotten

Although many younger people are discovering the remarkable Anita Hill and that hideous episode in American history for the first time, the story still feels fresh to me, and remains infuriating all these years later.

President Obama has chosen the universally respected Merrick Garland for the seat previously held by Antonin Scalia. There is no question the stakes are as high in this circumstance as they were when Clarence Thomas was nominated. Garland, by any measure, is well within the legal mainstream, respected by people across the ideological spectrum. Scalia, on the other hand, was known for what might politely be called extreme conservatism. Nevertheless, when Garland joins the Court it will alter the ideological balance in a way that last occurred when Thomas replaced Justice Marshall.

The nomination has become an election-year political donnybrook, with Republicans refusing even to hold a hearing, let alone a final vote. Americans aren’t buying what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are selling, though. Over 500 editorials have been written across the country denouncing their tactics. National polls consistently show that their stubborn, unprincipled, unprecedented obstruction is deeply unpopular and will affect some Senate races.

Some might find it ironic that the person who helped bring Anita Hill into the Clarence Thomas fight is complaining that a nomination has gotten too political.

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