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I was a college sophomore in 1991 when Anita Hill made the groundbreaking sexual harassment accusations against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
I’ve never seen her speak before so I was excited to hear her talk “Truth to Power” at UNC Charlotte on March 27, an event presented by the Women & Gender Studies Program. Many of the students in the audience were either infants or eggs when the hearings captured the nation.
Nicole Palacios, a UNCC sophomore, studied the hearings and was excited to hear Hill speak. “This is something huge,” Palacios said after the speech.
Hill had a conversational tone, laced with humor, and drenched in passion. During her talk, Hill said the confirmation hearings didn’t define her. They definitely inspired her. Although Hill didn’t discuss the case from a personal perspective, she did say testifying in Thomas’ confirmation hearings wasn’t on her bucket list. Hill would later say that she came forward when Thomas was nominated because she couldn’t not speak up regarding the man who would hold such a position of power.
We owe Hill for having the courage to speak truth to power. As Hill said, the hearings set up a system that holds people accountable for behavior that 25 years ago would’ve gone unnoticed. In her talk, she used the ordeal to illuminate the gains and failures in the fight for gender equality. Hill said she’s optimistic about gender equality.
“I know how far we’ve come,” Hill said.
Hill also detailed how far we have to go - such as supporting Obama’s healthcare reform, which benefits women, advocating wage equality, and fighting violence against women. To grow and prosper as a society, she said, we must take into account healthcare disparity, sexual harassment and violence against women.
She implored the audience to ignore labels such as feminism and think of how they would want the women in their lives to be treated. She encouraged the audience, especially the students, to find their voices.
“Dream big,” Hill told them, “and prepare for the future.”
Senior Melody Sowers planned to do just that. She hadn’t really heard of Hill before Tuesday’s talk. She said Hill showed that in life no matter what your situation is anything is possible.
And one voice can change a nation.
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