A time for Believing

Thirty years ago this Thanksgiving weekend, Anita Hill was testifying before a Senate justice commission about the fitness of Clarence Thomas to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. We all know how that turned out. After reading the breaking news in the New York Times that a woman had accused Thomas of sexual harassment, I had an immediate sense of how events would unfold. As an editorial writer at the Kingston Whig-Standard at the time, I wrote one of the first, if not the first, op-eds on the matter, published on Oct 11: “There was a time when Ms. Hill would have simply kept quiet or, if she dared to speak, her statements would have been completely and comfortably ignored. Now, however, the tribal antics of the boys’ club on Washington’s Capital Hill are in full view as it mobilizes in an attempt to crush this woman.” Thomas got this seat on the high court, but no one even came close to crushing Anita Hill. The social policy, law and gender studies professor at Brandeis University has just published her latest book Believing: Our Thirty-year Journey to End Gender Violence, which NPR describes as “downright virtuosic in the threads it weaves together.” In an appearance a few weeks ago on Steven Colbert, Hill recounts how she was initially taken aback when, during a Q & A session, a male student asked her how it felt to have changed the world. He was right, and we continue to owe her our thanks.