Anita Hill Supports Detroit Students
Twenty years after the Clarence Thomas hearings Hill visits Detroit
The famous lawyer and scholar Anita Hill has inspired one Detroit public school to create a club for young ladies interested in becoming attorneys.
Detroit International Academy for Young Women Principal Beverly Hibbler and a few members of her staff created the extracurricular group Anita's Aspiring Attorneys (AAA) after hearing about Hill's plans to visit the school.
Sandra O. Kent is president of the Women's Economic Empowerment Group, a Detroit-based small business. In collaboration with the Michigan Women's Foundation, Kent's company will co-host an event to raise funds for the Detroit International Academy featuring Hill on Nov. 3, 2011, at MotorCity Casino's Sound Board. Hill will be speaking about her new book, "Reimagining Equality: Stories on Gender, Race, and Finding Home."
"Anita feels there is still a need for women's equality and so we selected a girls' school that had a positive [environment] and was a change school—something that was new and exciting. This school has done a lot of wonderful things," says Kent.
"When Anita found out that we had come up with a club, then of course she endorsed it. She said 'By all means use my name and I am here to provide as much support as possible,'" says Hibbler.
October 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Hill's testimony in front of Clarence Thomas' Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. She disclosed information about the sexual harassment she had endured while working for him. Her testimony forever changed workplaces across America, giving more women the courage to speak out about sexual harassment occurring in their places of business.
To be considered for the AAA club, students were required to fill out an application and write an essay detailing why they wanted to be in the group and why the group would be helpful for them. Twenty-three young ladies were chosen. They are advised by three teachers: Carmen Simms-Perry, Christina Bell-Bowers and Edna Williams. These students, as a commitment to their future in the field of law, meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and during their lunch hour.
The first order of business for AAA members is reading Hill's first book, "Speaking Truth to Power." "They're meeting, reading and talking about Anita Hill and researching her because they wouldn't know who she was 20 years ago because they weren't born yet," says Hibbler.
The Detroit International Academy is planning to have the girls shadow attorneys and judges in the Detroit area. Hibbler is hopeful that the AAA club can visit Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., where Hill is a law and women's studies professor, or take a trip to Washington, D.C.
Hill will attend a reception with AAA members on Nov. 4 during which they will be able to ask her questions in a private setting. After the reception, Hill will speak to the high school student body, along with their parents.
Hibbler says one of the club's goals is to improve the young women's self-esteem and empower them to not tolerate abuse in any form.
"When you don't have that sense of independence and strength, you take more harassment," says Hibbler. "But when you are strong and love yourself, then you are powerful enough to not get into certain situations and strong enough speak up as Anita did."