Students learn Anita Hill story

By Erin Connolly ’15
March 19, 2014

Students born after the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas scandal of 1991 learned about the true impact of the event on March 18, during a screening and discussion of the new documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power in the Paramount Center’s Bright Family Screening Room.

The movie centers on Anita Hill’s unprecedented testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee accusing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. The documentary follows intersecting themes of race, gender equality, power, and politics.

White-Hammond, Walker

Rev. Gloria White-Hammond and Liz Walker moderate a discussion after a new documentary on Anita Hill in the Bright Family Screening Room on March 18. (Photo by Michelle Kwong '15)

Special guests Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, co-pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, and Liz Walker, an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and former WBZ news anchor, led the discussion after the film.

“I realize what a huge issue this was and is,” Walker said. “It was moving for me to see this because I never knew much about her and what a courageous woman she was and the value that this is having for another generation.”

Walker

Liz Walker at the Bright Family Screening Room on March 18. (Photo by Michelle Kwong '15)

Hill remained calm and collected throughout the nine hours of testimony answering intense questions from senators who sided with Thomas. Afterward, she received hate mail and threats from people who didn’t believe her story. This, however, did not keep her silent. More than 20 years later, while working as a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, Hill continues to speak to supporters across the country.

“That’s the most important thing,” Walker said. “To have conversations like this and to keep on talking about it.”

Many young people born after the 1991 hearing are not familiar with Hill’s contribution to encouraging women to speak out about sexual harassment. White-Hammond says Anita’s message is still relevant today.

White-Hammond

Rev. Gloria White-Hammond in the Bright Family Screening Room on March 18. (Photo by Michelle Kwong '15)

“Certainly we know on college campuses, that [as] young women, we are still victims of our silence and none of us is immune,” she said. “It’s an ongoing issue that we work on. We all [have to] support and encourage each other around speaking the truth.”

“I’d like to say thank you, Anita Hill,” Walker said.

Anita is part of the MIT Women Take the Reel Series. It was screened at Emerson as part of the Visual and Media Arts Department’s Bright Lights series.

The movie is premiering April 4 at the Landmark Kendall Square cinema in Cambridge and Landmark Embassy in Waltham. 

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