Sometime in 1956
Anita Hill grew up on a farm in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, the youngest
of 13 children. Her family was poor. She went through school to graduate
from Yale Law School in 1980 and was soon offered a job by Judge Clarence
Thomas, then the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights.
She had always wanted to work for civil rights and readily accepted
According to her
testimony at the Senate confirmation hearings, for the next two years
she was repeatedly asked out on dates by Judge Thomas, told graphic
sexual details about his sexual prowess and about pornographic movies
he had watched. In response she repeatedly and clearly told him she
did not want to date her supervisor and began to suffer from job stress,
even going to the hospital for five days for severe stomach pains. She
worried that he would not give her good assignments or good references
and that he might debase her work. When she was offered a teaching position
at Oral Roberts University she accepted it.
When she left the
employment of Clarence Thomas, he told her if she ever told how he had
acted with her she would ruin his career.
She did not tell
the authorities of her experiences with Thomas until specifically asked
about him by a representative of the Senate Judiciary Hearing when Thomas
was about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. At that point, in spite
of the possible risk to her career, she told the truth. Because of her
bravery, many other women have been able to bring to light their own
experiences with sexual harassment.
"It would have been more comfortable to remain silent. . . . But
when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my
experience I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent."
- Yale Law School
- Professor of
Law at Oklahoma University