Anita Hill: Meeting a personal hero

Photo of Anita Hill at UCSCAnita Hill attracted an overflow crowd. Photo by Tosh Tanaka.

March is Women's History Month—an ideal time to reflect on the recent visit to campus of Anita Hill.

Like millions of Americans, I was glued to the television during her 1991 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. She was such a credible witness—even as she was being railroaded by the all-male, all-white members of the committee. I was offended by the committee's treatment of her.

My wife Kelly and I so admired Anita Hill's courage and composure throughout the hearing. She has been a hero to both of us ever since. And so it was truly an honor to meet her and host her on campus. Her keynote address attracted a crowd that quickly filled the Multipurpose Room at Colleges 9 and 10, as well as the Humanities Lecture Hall, where it was simulcast live. Kudos to event organizers who swiftly found yet another room to accommodate everyone who turned out to see her.

Strikingly, as defining a moment as that hearing was in her life and as high a price as she has had to pay for coming forward as she did, Anita Hill has dedicated her life to empowering women. She shed public light on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and has been a spokeswoman for women, minorities, and people who have been badly treated in myriad ways ever since. What an accomplishment to pivot from the ordeal of that hearing to her role as an advocate fighting for the principles in which she believes. Strikingly, she is friendly, warm, generous, and compassionate. In short, she is a role model for us all.

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