Anita F. Hill

Senior Advisor to the Provost, Brandeis University
Professor of Law, Public Policy and Women’s Studies, Heller Graduate School of Policy and Management

Advocate for equality and civil rights.

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Biography

The youngest of 13 children from a farm in rural Oklahoma, Anita Hill received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980. She began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C. Before becoming a law professor, she worked at the U. S. Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1989, Hill became the first African American to be tenured at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, where she taught contracts and commercial law. She has made presentations to hundreds of business, professional, academic and civic organizations in the United States and abroad.

As counsel to Cohen Milstein, Anita Hill advises on class action workplace discrimination cases.

Anita’s latest book is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home. She has also written an autobiography, Speaking Truth to Power. With Professor Emma Coleman Jordan she co-edited, Race, Gender and Power in America: The Legacy of the Hill-Thomas Hearings.

Professor Hill’s commentary has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Ms. Magazine. She has appeared on national television programs including Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The Today Show, The Tavis Smiley Show and Larry King Live.

Professor Hill has received numerous honorary degrees and civic awards. She has chaired the Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar Association. In addition, she is on the Board of Governors of the Tufts Medical Center and the Board of Directors of the National Women’s Law Center and the Boston Area Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

Credentials

  • Senior Advisor to the Provost, Brandeis University
  • Professor of Law, Public Policy and Women’s Studies, Heller Graduate School of Policy and Management
  • Author, Reimagining Equality and Speaking Truth to Power
  • Chair, Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar Association
  • Board of Governors, Tufts Medical Center
  • Board of Directors, National Women’s Law Center and the Boston Area Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights
  • J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980
  • U. S. Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Professor, University of Oklahoma, College of Law

Books

Reimagining Equality

Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home

Anita F. Hill

From the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas in the historic confirmation hearings twenty years ago, Anita Hill's first book since the best-selling Speaking Truth to Power.

In 1991, Anita Hill’s courageous testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and women’s equality in politics and the workplace. Today, she turns her attention to another potent and enduring symbol of economic success and equality — the home. Hill details how the current housing crisis, resulting in the devastation of so many families, so many communities, and even whole cities, imperils every American’s ability to achieve the American Dream.

Hill takes us on a journey that begins with her own family story and ends with the subprime mortgage meltdown. Along the way, she invites us into homes across America, rural and urban, and introduces us to some extraordinary African American women. As slavery ended, Mollie Elliott, Hill’s ancestor, found herself with an infant son and no husband. Yet, she bravely set course to define for generations to come what it meant to be a free person of color. On the eve of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood experience of her family’s fight against racial restrictions in a Chicago neighborhood ended tragically for the Hansberry family. Yet, that episode shaped Lorraine’s hopeful account of early suburban integration in her iconic American drama A Raisin in the Sun. Two decades later, Marla, a divorced mother, endeavors to keep her children safe from a growing gang presence in 1980s Los Angeles. Her story sheds light on the fears and anxiety countless parents faced during an era of growing neighborhood isolation, and that continue today. In the midst of the 2008 recession, hairdresser Anjanette Booker’s dogged determination to keep her Baltimore home and her salon reflects a commitment to her own independence and to her community’s economic and social viability. Finally, Hill shares her own journey to a place and a state of being at home that brought her from her roots in rural Oklahoma to suburban Boston, Massachusetts, and connects her own search for home with that of women and men set adrift during the foreclosure crisis.

The ability to secure a place that provides access to every opportunity our country has to offer is central to the American Dream. To achieve that ideal, Hill argues, we and our leaders must engage in a new conversation about what it takes to be at home in America. Pointing out that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises is bigger than the current debate about legal rights, she presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality. Hill offers a twenty-first-century vision of America — not a vision of migration, but one of roots; not one simply of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community — a community of equals.

Beacon Press (October 4, 2011)
Beacon Press (September 4, 2012)

Praise

"Serious readers of all kinds, especially those interested in current affairs and social policy, will appreciate a book that is both highly readable and deeply analytical."
Library Journal

"With extraordinary grace and clarity, Anita Hill weaves the story of her family with that of other American families struggling to find and define homes for themselves. What emerges is a powerful story of our nation’s ongoing quest for equality of opportunity, viewed through the eyes of the people who have been deeply engaged in that quest. Beautifully written, elegantly seen, compellingly argued.”
— Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock

“Thoughtful and disturbing examination of slippery ideas, rendered in powerful prose."
Kirkus Reviews

"Her book, lucid about law, lively with smatterings of history and reminders of cultural markers, may open that conversation."
Publisher's Weekly

"Combining the sincerity of memoir and the rigor of sociology, Anita Hill looks at home as a physical space, but also as a microcosm of American society. The women profiled in this engaging and moving book illustrate the challenges of living in America as a raced and gendered person while simultaneously demonstrating the beauty of resistance and the triumphs of family, community, and faith. Hill connects the dots between the home-making efforts of African Americans just after Reconstruction and the heartbreaking (and enraging) consequences of the subprime mortgage scandal. After reading this book, you will never see a house as just four walls and a roof. It is a dream and we, as Americans, are the dreamers."
— Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

"Anita Hill’s bravery, intellect and commitment to justice galvanized a generation of women. If that weren’t enough, it turns out she’s also a wonderful story-teller. Re-Imagining Equality will change your ideas about home, race and gender — and it’s also great fun to read."
— Peggy Orenstein, author, Cinderella Ate My Daughter

"In a book that is rigorous and heartfelt, sharply analytical and deeply moving, Anita Hill examines the idea of what 'home' means to Americans. Bringing to bear her formidable skills as a scholar of American law, history, and culture, Hill has produced a personal narrative that reaches across color and class to explore how our family homes and our national home are inextricably linked to how we understand achievement, opportunity, and equality."
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University 

"In her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Race, Gender, and Finding Home, Professor Anita Hill has written a sobering and compelling book about the plight of woman historically and now. This book is a must read for anyone who is committed to gender equality, and will be invaluable to those who are trying to understand many of the burdens that women, black and white face, in their everyday lives. An easy read, this book has both tragic and triumphant stories and covers the life of women through slavery, and those who now live in the Obama era. They remind us that we still have to come to grips with issues of race and gender, and that we need to re-imagine the question of equality for all. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and excitement about its value to a large audience of readers."
— Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., author of The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America

Speaking Truth to Power

Anita F. Hill

After her astonishing testimony in the Clarence Thomas hearings, Anita Hill ceased to be a private citizen and became a public figure at the white-hot center of an intense national debate on how men and women relate to each other in the workplace. That debate led to groundbreaking court decisions and major shifts in corporate policies that have had a profound effect on our lives — and on Anita Hill's life. Now, with remarkable insight and total candor, Anita Hill reflects on events before, during, and after the hearings, offering for the first time a complete account that sheds startling new light on this watershed event. Here is a vitally important work that allows us to understand why Anita Hill did what she did, and thereby brings resolution to one of the most controversial episodes in our nation's history.

Only after reading her moving recollection of her childhood on her family's Oklahoma farm can we fully appreciate the values that enabled her to withstand the harsh scrutiny she endured during the hearings and for years afterward. Only after reading her detailed narrative of the Senate Judiciary proceedings do we reach a new understanding of how Washington — and the media — rush to judgment. And only after discovering the personal toll of this wrenching ordeal, and how Hill copes, do we gain new respect for this extraordinary woman.

Here is a vitally important work that allows us to understand why Anita Hill did what she did, and thereby brings resolution to one of the most controversial episodes in our nation's history.

Anchor (October 20, 1998)

Race, Gender, and Power in America

The Legacy of the Hill-Thomas Hearings

Anita Faye Hill and Emma Coleman Jordan (Editors)

The shock waves from Anita Hill's testimony at the Senate confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas continue to reverberate. Race, Gender, and Power in America is a powerful collection of essays that examines the context and consequences of that controversy. Edited by Hill and Emma Coleman Jordan, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, and including the first published essay on the episode written by Hill herself, these essays explore the volatile politics of race and gender, and the unique challenges faced by African-American women.

Among the distinguished contributors are Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; playwright/actress and Stanford University Professor Anna Deaveare Smith; and Chief Judge Emeritus A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In addition, this collection brings together for the first time many of the direct participants in the hearings, including four members of Hill's emergency legal team: Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. of Harvard Law School; Professor Judith Resnik of the University of Southern California Law Center; Susan Deller Ross, Director of the Sex Discrimination Clinic at Georgetown Law Center; and volume co-editor Emma Coleman Jordan. Jordan's essay examines how Thomas used the "lynching" metaphor to evoke a false racial memory of innocent black victims of vigilante violence. The lynching metaphor succeeded in branding Hill as a race-disrespecting traitor who was willing to "air the dirty linen" of sexual misconduct by breaking a powerful racial taboo against exposing black men to flawed justice. In "She's No Lady; She's a Nigger," Adele Logan Alexander scrutinizes the devastating, centuries-old stereotypes of African-American women as mindless, untrustworthy, and sexually insatiable. Hill examines the institutions of patronage and marriage, demonstrating how, as a professional African-American woman with no official Senate sponsor, she confounded the assumptions by which lawmakers are accustomed to assigning credibility and status. "In going before the Committee, I came face to face with a history of exclusion from power," she writes. Charles R. Lawrence views the controversy as Act One in a three act morality play starring Clarence Thomas, William Kennedy Smith, and Mike Tyson, and Harvard's Orlando Patterson maintains that it is black men, even more than black women, who suffer the consequences of strained gender relations. Looking to the future, Robert L. Allen describes his encouraging work with the Oakland Men's Project, and offers a prescription for ending sexual harassment and the system of sexism that underpins it.

Race, Gender, and Power in America is provocative reading for everyone concerned about the fault lines of race and gender threatening to rupture our society.

Oxford University Press, USA (October 5, 1995)

Topics

Anita tailors each presentation to the needs of her audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest her range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Reimagining Equality

Feedback

A college of the arts, sciences and professional studies:
I just wanted to say thanks for helping to coordinate a fantastic visit by Professor Anita Hill. Her presentation at [...] Constitution Day on September 19th was incredibly well-received. During her speech, Professor Hill was insightful and engaging; afterward, at the post-event reception, she was very gracious in allowing students and faculty to take photos with her.

A non-profit organization to increase opportunities for women and girls:
You electrified the room! Thank you so very much for bringing your grace, humor and energy to [...]. You advanced our theme and message greatly, unlike speakers we have had in the past. We appreciate the care and preparation that went into your remarks very much.

We received great positive feedback:

  • "How are you going to top this next year?"
  • "There was energy like the old days (meaning the early days of [...] when everyone was charged about the work)"
  • "I could have listened to her (meaning you) for hours".

These are just a few comments from folks, but I am sure that you heard directly from a few women there as well.

A professional lawyers' organization:
Our program today with Professor Hill was just outstanding. We had over 300 people attend the lunch, which was 100 more than my highest projected goal. She was simply superb, and the comments that I am receiving are overwhelmingly positive.