April 10, 2019

Anita Hill to Discuss Race, Gender, the Law With Imani Perry at Richardson on April 18

By Donald Gilpin

Anita Hill, professor of social policy, law, and women’s gender and sexuality studies at Brandeis University, will discuss race, gender, and the law with Imani Perry, Princeton University professor of African American studies and faculty associate in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, on Thursday, April 18 at 8 p.m. in Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium.

Perry commented, in an email, on Hill’s impact since she testified in 1991 at Senate hearings on Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court, accusing him of sexual harassment.

“Although I grew up in a community that included many black feminists, the Thomas hearings were extremely impactful on me as an event in which the particular gendered experience of a black woman was in the public eye,” said Perry, who was in her late teens at the time. “Professor Hill, along with a group of other black women who litigated cases, brought the issue of sexual harassment into the public arena and changed the landscape of feminist politics.”

Describing the Me Too movement as “a contemporary extension” of Hill’s efforts, Perry compared Hill to Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement. “Then as now, Anita Hill, like Tarana Burke, has raised issues that have broad implications for our culture and also made clear the particular vulnerabilities experienced by black women and girls,” Perry noted.

Hill, an attorney in Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll’s Civil Rights & Employment Practice group, in December 2017 was named chair of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, formed to combat sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.

Hill’s books include Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home (2011) and her autobiography Speaking Truth to Power (1997). Her commentary has also been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Ms. Magazine.

Perry emphasized the significance of Hill’s perspectives on the current cultural and political environment. “It’s important to hear from Professor Hill now, with her decades of insight and given that we still haven’t resolved the questions of ethics and integrity she raised as they relate to Supreme Court justices and elected officials,” Perry said. “I am also particularly interested in hearing about Professor Hill’s current work and her thoughts about where the center of gravity is for organizing around gender justice today.”

Perry has written and taught on a number of topics regarding race and African American culture. She has published five books, including Looking for Lorraine: the Radiant Life of Lorraine Hansberry (2018); Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation (2018); and the upcoming Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (2019).

The April 18 event is cosponsored by the Stafford Little Lecture Series and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Series, with required free tickets available at tickets.princeton.edu or through the Frist Ticketing Office.