African American History Month: The Legacy of Anita Hill

On February 15, the Allen Theater at Texas Tech University in Lubbock welcomed Anita Hill, a distinguished speaker invited to deliver a lecture in the middle of African American History Month. Ms. Hill is known for her brave and historical role during the Senate hearings held to confirm the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court.

At the Allen Theater, many audience members wore t-shirts with political slogans that indicated their support of Ms. Hill, an attorney and professor who is currently a prominent faculty member at the prestigious Brandeis University. The lights in the auditorium were dimmed for emotional effect as the gospel song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was performed by an African American choir. Texas Tech University officials introduced Ms. Hill to more than a thousand attendees. Organizers of the event remarked that Ms. Hill was invited as an effort to include female speakers during African American Month celebrations.

Once Ms. Hill took the podium, members of the audience learned about her current efforts to bring awareness of sexual harassment in the American workplace, something that she has firsthand experience in. Ms. Hill was invited by former First Lady Michelle Obama to join the Commission for Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, and she is considered to be a historically important figure of the ongoing #MeToo movement.

Anita Hill once served as an assistant to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his term as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education. She made history when an interview she gave to FBI agents about her work experience with Thomas was leaked. Thomas was an appointee of former President George H. Bush; his confirmation hearings were going well until Ms. Hill took the stand and courageously faced questioning by Members of Congress about the sexual misconduct she was subject while working with Thomas.

The legacy of Anita Hill is remembered during African American History month because of the courage she demonstrate by going public with her testimony, which was widely questioned by the political establishment of the early 1990s.