Anita Hill is known as many things—slut, liar, attention seeker, feminist, pioneer, and hero—all titles stemming from her testimony against Clarence Thomas in 1991. Hill has been in the spotlight since the trial, and on Monday, April 1 she graced the stage at Kalamazoo’s Chenery Auditorium to share the wisdom she garnered over fourteen years.
Her lecture was a part of Western Michigan University’s Raise Your Voice series. The speech tied her bravery of raising her own voice against Thomas to the growing movement of college women speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault on college campuses.
After recalling her own past, she called for change. “[Sexual assault] really has to stop… we need to imagine a world with no barriers,” and she called for women to raise their voices to address the needed change on college campuses. While dealing with issue of sexual harassment and assault, she noted, people must not exclude any conversations on the underlying intersections of race, gender and sexuality. In doing so, people can create a world where sexism and racism are no longer so potent.
Her speech and passionate plea was met with a standing ovation, and it clearly resonated with the crowd. She spoke to an audience who had faced similar struggles over the last few weeks. With the ongoing Intercultural Movement and the upcoming Take Back the Night on April 28, her lecture fit in with recent events on Kalamazoo College’s campus.
While her speech addressed serious topics, Anita Hill left the audience with a feeling of inspiration and a drive to change the world. She stressed that the Clarence Thomas trial left her beaten down and attacked, but if given the choice, she would do it all again.
All people can benefit from finding courage similar to what Hill exhibited and continued to show by raising her voice on behalf of other women. Her speech was a gift to the community and an invitation to aspire to be as strong as she.