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Anita Hill

lawyer, scholar, civil rights activist

On October 6, 1991, Anita Hill's life was dramatically and irrevocably changed when her charges of sexual harassment against a former employer, Clarence Thomas, were made public on the eve of his confirmation as a Supreme Court justice. In the ensuing days, Hill was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the graphic details of the alleged harassment and about her personal life. Her compelling testimony before the committee was broadcast live around the globe, sweeping her from the quiet obscurity of her life as a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma. Her charges produced a stunning collision of race and gender issues, and reactions to her and her story were highly polarized; some viewed her as a hero and a martyr, while others vilified her as mentally unstable, a liar, and even a racist. An internship with a local judge had turned her ambitions to the field of law, and she sought and won admission into Yale University's demanding School of Law, where she was one of 11 black students in a class of 160. After graduation, she took a full-time job as a professional lawyer with the Washington law firm of Ward, Harkrader, and Ross.