Anita Hill shook the table when she accused then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At the time, it seemed Hill was alone in daring to stand up against such a prominent figure.
However, on one historic day in 1991, one black woman decided to show Hill she wasn't alone by taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times. And 1,600 other black women joined her in signing the announcement.
Author Tayari Jones, one of the signatories of the ad, touched on the powerful moment on Twitter Wednesday.
27 years ago, 1600 black women took out a full page ad in the NYT to show support for Anita Hill. I was 20 years old. I put $25 toward the price of the ad and signed my name. pic.twitter.com/I9AvWsoeGm— Tayari Jones (@tayari) September 19, 2018
"I was 20 years old. I put $25 toward the price of the ad and signed my name," tweeted the bestselling author of An American Marriage.
Jones also said she wished she could identify the woman behind the ad while recalling the process.
I wish I could remember who asked me to join the effort to gather signatures and raise the money to pay for the ad.— Tayari Jones (@tayari) September 19, 2018
But i remember that she said, you don’t have to pay to sign your name, but this is a moment for you to give money, and make a sacrifice, to show it matters to you.— Tayari Jones (@tayari) September 19, 2018
At the time, $25 was a significant donation. I remember I had to balance my checkbook afterwards.— Tayari Jones (@tayari) September 19, 2018
I just really wish I could remember who she was. She gave me a chance to be part of history and she taught me a major life lesson.— Tayari Jones (@tayari) September 19, 2018
In a poignant moment, other social media users shared how black women they knew joined in signing the ad, as well.
One of my undergrad professors name is on here. She showed during a class. https://t.co/Xl9Rgv1V60— synesthesia (@KytheRHOgue) September 19, 2018
My grandmother, who turns 80 in October, was one of these Black women. Wow. https://t.co/YMOLAz3IxP— D (@_DIEUDONNE_) September 19, 2018
Read the whole statement. Are we going to continue the brave work of these women? Are we going to honor Anita Hill? Are we going to fight to protect women from predatory men? Write to letters to your local papers. Call your senators. Be as badass as Anita Hill. https://t.co/F2loBYcwE2— Amber is revising (@amberjkeyser) September 19, 2018
The resurfacing of this moment in black history comes shortly after Hill wrote a significant op-ed at The Times, stressing the urgency of "getting it right" in the current Supreme Court nomination process of controversial nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh stands accused not of sexual harassment but sexual misconduct and attempted sexual assault.
"In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court It failed on both counts," Hill, now a Brandeis University professor, wrote.
"In 1991, the phrase 'they just don’t get it' became a popular way of describing senators’ reaction to sexual violence," Hill continued. "With years of hindsight, mounds of evidence of the prevalence and harm that sexual violence causes individuals and our institutions, as well as a Senate with more women than ever, 'not getting it' isn’t an option for our elected representatives. In 2018, our senators must get it right."
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