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Anita Hill was 29 years old when she made history — spearheading an important and still ongoing conversation about sexual harassment and gender violence.
In 1991, the University of Oklahoma law professor stood in front of an all-male, all-white Senate judiciary committee and testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, her former boss, had sexually harassed her. In the end, Thomas was confirmed, but a national conversation about gender misconduct in the workplace had begun.
"I testified that one day, but the experience continued," explained Hill in an interview with New Day Northwest. "I was called upon to explain over and over again why I had testified and why my testimony was important. It didn't end when I left Washington D.C."
At the time, stories of women facing similar situations were not unheard of, but speaking about them was taboo. Thirty years later, countless victims suffer in silence — even with the emergence of the Me Too movement. Among many who struggle to make their voice heard, she was able to find strength and courage.
"You draw on so many things, including your history and your understanding that this is a problem that has been going on that other people have experienced," said Hill. "That really gave me a sense of urgency about what I had to do and what I wanted the world to do in response."
In her new book "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence," she helps us understand the crisis of gender violence and what we must do to solve it. She also grapples with her identity as a Black woman and facing backlash from a community with which she identified.
"Many people thought even if what I said was true, I shouldn't have stepped forward and I shouldn't have testified against a Black man," she continued. "You have to deal with racism to really be able to eliminate gender-based violence against women of color. Racism overlaps with misogyny when it comes to gender-based violence."
Another important topic she covers in her book is the issue of language and how that can inhibit victims' desire to speak openly about their own experiences.
"[This framing is] grooming people not to come forward, not to trust the system, not to trust even their own feelings," she said. "We have got to deal with the cultural messages we are sending people. There's work to be done."
Watch our chat continuing the topic below:
Segment Producer Suzie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.