Anita Hill : biography
Anita Faye Hill (born July 30, 1956) is an American attorney and academic, currently a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She became a national figure in 1991 when she alleged that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had made harassing sexual statements when he was her supervisor at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Though Thomas was confirmed and took a seat on the Court, Hill’s testimony focused national attention on the issue of workplace sexual harassment.
Hill accepted a position as a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Social Change at University of California, Berkeley in January 1997, but soon joined the faculty of Brandeis University—first at the Women’s Studies Program, later moving to the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. In 2011, she also took a counsel position with the Civil Rights & Employment Practice group of the plaintiffs’ law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.
Over the years, Hill has provided commentary on gender and race issues on national television programs, including 60 Minutes, Face the Nation and Meet the Press She has been a speaker on the topic of commercial law as well as race and women’s rights. She is also the author of articles that have been published in the New York Times and Newsweek. and has contributed to many scholarly and legal publications in the areas of international commercial law, bankruptcy, and civil rights.
In 1995 Hill co-edited Race, Gender and Power in America: The Legacy of the Hill-Thomas Hearings with Emma Coleman Jordan. In 1997 Hill published her autobiography, Speaking Truth to Power, in which she chronicled her role in the Clarence Thomas confirmation controversy and wrote that creating a better society had been a motivating force in her life. In 2011 Hill published her second book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home, which focuses on the sub-prime lending crisis that resulted in the foreclosure of many homes owned by African-Americans. She calls for a new understanding about the importance of home and its place in the American Dream.
Early life and education
Hill was born in Lone Tree, Oklahoma, the youngest of the 13 children of Albert and Erma Hill, who were farmers. Her family hailed from Arkansas, where her great-grandparents and her maternal grandfather, Henry Eliot, were born into slavery. Hill was raised in the Baptist faith.
After graduating as valedictorian from Morris High School, Hill enrolled at Oklahoma State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors, in psychology 1977. She went on to Yale Law School, obtaining her Juris Doctor degree with honors in 1980.
She was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1980 and began her law career as an associate with the Washington, D.C. firm of Wald, Harkrader & Ross. In 1981, she became an attorney-adviser to Clarence Thomas who was then the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. When Thomas became Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1982, Hill went along to serve as his assistant, leaving the job in 1983.
Hill then became an assistant professor at the Evangelical Christian O. W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University where she taught from 1983 to 1986. In 1986, she joined the faculty at the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she taught commercial law and contracts.
Awards and honors
In 2005 Hill was selected as a Fletcher Foundation Fellow. In 2008 she was awarded the Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award by the Ford Hall Forum. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Southern Vermont College in Bennington, Vermont.
Clarence Thomas controversy
According to Hill, during her two years of employment as Thomas’s assistant, Thomas had asked her out socially many times, and after she refused, he used work situations to discuss sexual subjects. "He spoke about…such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes" she said, adding that on several occasions Thomas graphically described "his own sexual prowess" and the details of his anatomy. Hill also recounted an instance in which Thomas examined a can of Coke on his desk and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"