In 1991, I was vaguely aware of the controversy surrounding the nomination of eventual Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. At the time, I was newly married, on a rollercoaster career ride, programming a radio station in Los Angeles and enjoying a new start in an exciting city. Politics weren't high on my priority list, for better or worse.
I do remember hearing about Anita Hill, and her testimony against Thomas, in lieu of his alleged unprofessional behavior when she was his assistant in the early 80s. It was probably one of the first times the term 'sexual harrassment' ever reached my ears. Once again, I didn't look closely into it, assuming the government hearing could figure it out better than I could.
Now, over 20 years later, sexual harrassment is, unfortunately, still a part of our culture, but thanks in no small part to the bravery and determination of Anita Hill, the youngest of 13 children, it is no longer swept under the carpet and can no longer be written off as a woman 'overreacting' to the behavior of an employer, friend or lover.
'Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power' is an excellent, new documentary that sheds light on the story of a woman who never wanted the spotlight, only sought to tell the truth, and the incredibly unfair treatment she received for exercising her right to free speech while doing what she believed was in the best interest of her country.
Ms. Hill participates via new interviews, interspersed with archival footage of the hearing, with Joe Biden presiding, alongside Teddy Kennedy, Orrin Hatch and other Republicans and Democrats, as they fumbled awkwardly trying to break Anita Hill's resolve. They were unsuccessful, to say the least. I have to admit, I was disappointed to find out that ('Uncle') Joe Biden refused to call other women to the stand who also claimed to have been harrassed by Clarence Thomas, wanting to close the book on an uncomfortable chapter in America history as quickly as possible.
It's apropo that while Clarence Thomas has been one of our least effective judges, often silent on most issues excluding shooting down the afffirmative action programs that were in part beneficial to his career path, Anita Hill has become a well regarded, well respected voice for women's rights and gender equality, with nary a blemish on her record.
Looking at the women she has and continues to inspire, the film offers a hopeful and positive message about the way young women can see themselves, their opportunities and their choices. If you have a daughter, granddaughter, wife or sister, taking them to see 'Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power' is a nice way to demonstrate what you think of them.
The film is in limited release, check the website for cities and theaters. https://www.facebook.com/anitahillmovie