Anita Hill was the keynote speaker for Shirley Chisholm Day
By B. Crane
Anita Hill was the keynote speaker for Shirley Chisholm Day at the Student Center Tuesday Nov 29th. It was a packed room with over 250 in attendance. In attendance were Gloria Steinem and Donna Brazile, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Yvone Graham, several assemblypersons and BC President Karen Gould. CUNY Radio and BET Television were recording it. The Solebury School of New Hope, PA attended. The grades are from 7 to 12.
Hill discussed Shirley Chisolm, sexual harassment, woman’s rights and equality in getting a mortgage loan. Hill had an impressive vocabulary delivered in a down to earth way. Hill showed a sense of humor and personablity referring to audience members by name to that asked questions. She spoke looking to all sides of the room. She was thoughtful in policy honest in saying when she did not know something. Usually they were local issues she would have no way of knowing but didn’t try bluffing thorough.
Anita Hill became a national figure in 1991 when she alleged that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had made harassing sexual statements when he was her supervisor at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Though Thomas was confirmed and took a seat on the Court, Hill’s testimony focused national attention on the issue of workplace sexual harassment. In 1992 after five years of pressure to leave, Hill resigned the University Of Oklahoma Law School. Anita Hill is a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University. After
receiving her JD from Yale Law School in 1980, she worked as the attorney-advisor to Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Department of Education. Hill discussed the housing foreclosure crisis, urban neglect, and new migration patterns as examples of a larger problem that she calls a “crisis of home,” which contributes to gender and racial inequality. Paying particular attention to the cultural and behavioral factors that disadvantage women and people of color in their efforts to find home, she proposes a twenty-first century vision of society—not a vision of movement, but one of place; not one of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community—a community of equals.
Shirley Chisholm was honored for being alumni of BC, an educator and author. She was a Congresswoman, representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to Congress. She didn’t go to representative circles because of being afraid of harassment. On January 25, 1972, she became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hill said Chisholm was told it was more expedient to move on. They told her leave it to the more established candidates. Assemblyperson Rhoda Jacobs said there were four women in the New York City assembly when they we started did not have a bathroom for females in the assembly. Chisholm was for woman of all races, against child abuse and domestic violence. Hill said that Chisholm help get more representative and fought for the ERA and a better America for generations to come. She had faced much more discrimination because she was a woman than because she was black as Hill echoed the same sentiment.
Hill said what is good for woman is good for all. She said in her own case, Clarence Thomas was above the law he was enforcing. She wants our daughters to have the ability to find their voice. Hill quoted an AAU study that 50% of women have been harassed in their school. There is a harassment link to dating violence.
Hill said if the home owner’s crisis generations are at risk. Women should own homes and be safe and secure. There is grammy hunting and woman targeted with mortgages. A 2005 survey showed woman is the biggest market for home buying. They are disparitively impaired, A Pew survey said Black and Latinos lost 65% of their household wealth. When they lose their home there is a spike in homeless and students in class. If racism and sexism is not rooted out the cycle will be repeated. Where you live depends where you go to school and your representatives. There should be equal access to homes. Women make 80% of a man’s salary.
When asked about the New York market she said she did not know it. There is not one size that fits all models. Some pay 50% for shelter plus utilities, food, and deferred maintenance. Income is not rising at the same rate as education. There is a gross inequity of income distribution. On fighting an issue some say what is the point, it is hopeless. In 1991 President Bush said he would veto legislation on sexual harassment. It passed both houses and he didn’t veto it.
A Hill said she has 25,000 letters and one day will write a book about the Clarence Thomas incident. Audience members were allowed to ask questions. Education department professor Karl Rose asked how to address a public passionate to technology verse community. Hill said the virtual community has to be addressed verse the hand held devices. Community is in the mind and in real physical space.
Assemblyperson Rhoda Jacobs said we should lobby government to cut mortgages. Hill said Nevada sued their banks as a proactive measure. A student from Saint Francis College asked what her inspiration was. Hill said she looked at more than the immediate but bigger ambition. She stood up to her mother’s steel and grit. Asked if she was white how her life would have been different. At first she said she did not know. Hill said there has been a lot of progress in 20 years but it is not all done. Behaviors are centuries old. We need to talk to our sons. We have sexual scandals in college athletics, clergy and the military. Institutes shape homophobia and gender bias. Many want to keep the scandal quiet to promote the institution.
Chisholm created controversy when she visited rival and ideological opposite George Wallace in the hospital soon after his shooting in May 1972, during the 1972 presidential primary campaign. Several years later, when Chisholm worked on a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, Wallace helped gain votes of enough Southern congressmen to push the legislation through the House.
Hill was accurate with the following fact but it was misleading. Hill said Chisholm got 152 first-ballot votes for the democratic presidential nomination. Technically Chisholm campaigned in 12 states and winning 28 delegates during the primary process. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as a symbolic gesture, McGovern’s opponent Hubert H. Humphrey released his black delegates to Chisholm. She survived three assassination attempts during the campaign.
Hill’s book is “On The Value of Belonging: Reimagining Equality in 21st Century”.
Shirley Chisholm Center for Research on Women is in 1207 Ingersoll Hall and the Shirley Chisholm Project oral history archives at chisholmproject.com
Photos if you scroll several photos back.