Born In: Lone Tree, Oklahoma, United States
Anita Hill is an American educator, author and activist. A lawyer by training, she led an ordinary life until she was called in to give testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, during the Senate confirmation hearings. Born into an African-American farming family, she worked for Thomas for two years, during which period he is said have harassed her sexually. She decided to talk about the sexual harassment when she found that he was being selected for the post of an Associate Supreme Court Justice simply on the strength of his good character. It was not an easy job and although her opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee is now listed as No. 69 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century, she actually failed to stop him from taking the seat. On the other hand, her fight created awareness about sexual harassment at work place among general public, propelling her into spotlight.
Also Known As: Anita Faye Hill
father: Albert Hill
mother: Erma Hill
Born Country: United States
Height: 1.67 m
Notable Alumni: Oklahoma State University
education: Yale University, University Of Oklahoma
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Anita Hill was born on July 30, 1956 in Lone Tree, a small community located in the US state of Oklahoma. Her father, Albert Hill, Sr, initially from Arkansas, owned a farm in rural Morris, located some 45 miles south of Tulsa. Her mother, Erma nee Eliot , came from a family of slaves.
Born youngest of her parents thirteen children, she had seven brothers and five sisters. The children were raised in a deeply religious environment, spending their Sundays at the Lone Pine Baptist Church. Weekdays were however spent in attending schools, studying and working on the farm.
Anita Hill began her education at Okmulgee County's integrated schools before moving to Morris High School, earning A’s all through. Elected a class secretary, she was also accepted as a member of the National Honor Society, and chosen to give valediction speech at the graduation ceremony in 1973.
On graduating from school, she entered Oklahoma State University, from where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology honors in 1977. Thereafter, she entered Yale Law School, where she was one of the 11 black students in a class of 160, eventually graduating from there in 1980.
In 1980, Anita Hill entered the District of Columbia Bar and began her career as an associate with Wald, Harkrader & Ross. In the following year, she left the law firm too become an attorney-adviser to Clarence Thomas, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
According to her later statements, it was not at all comfortable time for her because she had to cope with unwanted sexual advances from her boss. He not only asked her for a date, which she refused, but also discussed pornographic films, graphically describing the scenes.
In spite of the harassment, she followed Thomas when he became the Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982. Later, she clarified her move by saying that she wanted to work in a good position within the civil rights field.
Encouraged by this, Clarence Thomas went one step up and began to describe his anatomy and sexual prowess. By July 1983, the situation became so intolerable that she quit her position to become an assistant professor at the Evangelical Christian O. W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University, remaining there till 1986.
In 1986, she joined the College of Law, University of Oklahoma, where she taught commercial law and contracts. In 1989, she became the first tenured African American professor at the institution, serving in that position till 1996.
It all started in 1991, when her former boss Clearance Thomas was nominated by President George W. Bush to succeed retiring Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Although Thomas had been a judge for slightly more than a year, it was his good character, which was presented as a primary qualification.
When Anita Hill heard that Thomas was going to the Supreme Court primarily on the strength of his good character, she knew she had to speak out and gave a private interview. Leaked to the press by the FBI, it created a furor and Hill was asked to testify.
In the hearing, held on October 11, 1991 and televised throughout the country, Hill spoke about the harassment she had to face while working with Thomas and admitted that following him to EEOC was a bad decision. Knowing that few would believe her, she took polygraph test, which confirmed her accusations.
While four female witnesses were present at the hearing to corroborate Anita Hill, they were never called in. Contrarily, many Senators, who supported Thomas, questioned her credibility, calling her names. Thomas himself claimed that white liberals were trying to block an African-American conservative from taking a seat at the Supreme Court.
Although Anita Hill’s endeavor failed and Clarence Thomas was finally appointed to the Supreme Court on a vote of 52-48, her fight did not go entirely in vain. Over the time she became a symbol of a powerful wave of feminism and a much sought-after speaker.
On leave from the University of Oklahoma (OU), she spent two years as a visiting professor in California. She also co-edited with Emma Coleman Jordan Race, Gender and Power in America: The Legacy of the Hill-Thomas Hearings (1995). She returning to OU in the fall of 1995.
Her second innings at OU was far from peaceful and amid calls for her resignation, she finally put down her paper in October 1996, but stayed back to complete the semester. Meanwhile in September 1997, she published her first book, Speaking Truth to Power.
In 1998, she became a visiting scholar at Brandeis University, eventually rising to the post of university professor in 2015. Meanwhile she continued to write, producing innumerable articles and books, among which more significant are: Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home (2011) and Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence (2021).
Anita Hill has received numerous awards including: Glamour Woman of the Year Award (1991); Glamour Special Recognition Award (1992); American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession's "Women of Achievement" Award (1992); Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award (2008)1; PEN America’s Courage Award (2019) etc
Minor planet 6486 Anitahill has been named in her honor.
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