Anita Hill now leads a Hollywood commission on eliminating sexual harassment and advancing equality, but on Thursday, she was queried about what first brought her to the limelight: Her testimony in the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings.
At Citizen by CNN in New York, Hill was asked by moderator Christiane Amanpour whether she had forgiven Joe Biden for his role in the hearings. He’s been criticized for the way that he handled those proceedings. At the time, he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but did not call other women witnesses who could have offered corroborating testimony to her claims of sexual harassment.
“Have I forgiven Joe Biden? I am ready to move on,” she said. “But I am also ready to hold Joe Biden accountable,” Hill said at the event. She said that what she means is “acknowledging your role in the problem, and the harm that’s caused. Acknowledging that you have culpability and are part of it.” She also wants “clear information that you have made a change and that you are going to do something that is going to make us all better off around gender discrimination. I expect that not only from Joe Biden, but I expect that from every candidate, regardless of their gender.”
Biden called Hill earlier this year, weeks before he announced his presidential campaign, to express his regret for what she went through in 1991, according to The New York Times.
Hill said that she has not endorsed a 2020 presidential candidate, saying that she never does.
She did address President Donald Trump’s characterization of the impeachment inquiry as a “lynching.”
“That is ludicrous,” she said. “It is just ludicrous. The idea that a person with this kind of power and authority could co-opt this language on his own personal behalf is ludicrous and insulting and we need to call it out for that. But we also have to go back to the reality that this is a tactic. It’s a divisive tactic to get people to push back on any kind of challenges.”
She said that Trump’s use of the word was “not really that different” from what happened in 1991, when Thomas characterized his confirmation hearings as a “high-tech lynching.”
Hill said that Thomas also was using a “tactic” back then to push back on her claims.
“One of the reasons that it was so effective is that we didn’t have a similar narrative for the treatment of black women,” she said.
“He became …the face of the race, and I was sort of taken out of any kind of racial experience that you may have.” She added that it was “hurtful to me to assume that I had no racial understanding or sympathies.”
Hill also criticized how media outlets have handled the 2020 presidential debates so far, noting that “no one has asked [of the candidates] what will you do to respond to this information that you have received en masse in the MeToo movement.”
She said that gender based violence affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men.
“Why isn’t this seen as a public health crisis?”