Race, Sex and Power: Anita Hill 20 Years Later

By Glynda C. Carr

On October 11, 1991, 35 year-old Professor Anita Hill appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.  During Professor Hill’s testimony, she proclaimed, “It would have been more comfortable to remain silent. I took no initiative to inform anyone. But, when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent.”

The Hill-Thomas hearings launched an emotionally-charged public debate on race and gender and catapulted the issue of workplace sexual harassment into the public dialogue.

Although there was some blatant opposition from civil rights groups including the NAACP on the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, there was also a strong belief by some in the African American community that Professor Hill and her allegations (true or not) would stand in the way of ensuring that an African American man would continue serving on the country’s highest court.

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