Anita Hill Visits WPU
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Anita Hill, a social justice activist, spoke at William Paterson University on February 24 as part of the university’s 38th Annual Distinguished Lecturer Series.
The talk, entitled “Reimagining Equality: Inclusive Communities in Post-Obama America,” spoke about gender and racial equality, as well as Hill’s past experiences and how they relate to today’s culture.
Hill became renown in 1991 after testifying during then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings that he committed sexual assault against her when they worked together. Her testimony shed light on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and made it a national issue.
Hill is also a professor of social policy and law and women’s studies at Brandeis University.
Before the lecture, student Aziza Kibibi interviewed Hill for WPTV 6 where she spoke about a collaboration between Hill and artist Mark Branford. The collaboration will be for a painting that will display the texts of civil rights activist Myrtle Evers-Williams at Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Hill also had a talk with members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and other students.
The lecture was given at the Shea Center for Performing Arts to a nearly full auditorium. The president of the University, Kathleen Waldron, first greeted the audience and introduced New Jersey Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, who then presented Hill. When Hill took the podium, she was met with a rousing applause.
“Racism and sexism are inextricably linked to each other and other forms of bias,” said Hill, starting the lecture by outlining what she would talk about throughout the night.
With the scene set, Hill covered what the environment was like when she came forward with her allegations and what the Senate Judiciary Committee did wrong.
“They were so interested in voting that they didn’t have proper investigation. They called people who only confirmed they’re reality,” said Hill.
Hill also spoke about the problems and themes that she saw during her experience, like racism and sexism, and how to fix and address them.
“No community is better to address these issues in ways we can move forward in society than colleges and universities,” said Hill
At the end of her lecture, members of the audience were able to ask Hill questions. A particularly moving moment during the question and answer session was when a professor from the University, Dr. Carole Sheffield, presented Hill with a book published after the confirmation hearings. The book has stories of women’s cases similar to that of Hill’s, including one of Sheffield’s experiences.
“She’s so inspiring. She continues her tradition of truth-telling and we need that in this day and age,” said Sheffield.
After the lecture, people were able to get signed copies of Hill’s book “Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home.”
“Dr. Hill is an amazing and empowering speaker,” said Geneva Fucci, a graduate student at WPU. “As a feminist, it’s easy to get worn down, but her talk nourished that part of me and reinvigorated it.
“Bravery doesn’t mean you don’t have fears,” said Hill. “ Bravery means you move forward even though you have them.”