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Basic Black; Conversation With Anita Hill


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Basic Black
Conversation With Anita Hill
Program Number


Series Description

THe series was formerly known as Say Brother. Series title change as of 1/8/1998. This series is black produced and is one of public television's longest-running series that is rooted in and reflects the culture, concerns, achievements and history of people of African descent. Also includes controversial issues, African American artists, and events of special interest to the African American community.

Series release date: 1/8/1998

Program Description

Anita Hill became a familiar face in the media in 1991, when she testified during the Senate confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill accused Thomas, her former supervisor at the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, of sexual harassment. Now a professor at Brandeis University, Hill talks to Basic Black host Darren Duarte about her views on law and the long-term effects the hearings have had both on her and the country.

The February 6th broadcast of this program is particularly timely, as February 5 marks the release date of David Brock’s Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. In 1993 Brock first wrote The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story, a book aimed at discrediting Hill. In Blinded by the Right, Brock admits that this earlier book consisted largely of false and unconfirmed information. In her conversation with Duarte, Hill acknowledges her struggle to remain true to her own principles, regardless of the public scrutiny she received.

"Sometimes the maintenance of power relies on myths and lies," says Hill, "and the big lie that I think was exposed throughout the hearings was about our experience, women’s experience, in the workplace—the lie that sexual harassment is not a reality, that sexual harassment is something that has been fabricated by women who are spurned or have ulterior motives."

Hill, who received a law degree from Yale University, explains that her interest in law was inspired early on by Civil Rights activists such as Patricia Harris. "Growing up during the Civil Rights movement, one of the things I recognized was that a lot of the women who were involved in the Civil Rights movement were lawyers. It was the first time that I actually saw African American women in professional positions."

"In 1991, I had been out of law school for 11 years, I had been teaching law and I had really learned to understand it and to believe in the integrity of the law," says Hill. "I had learned to understand that if the law meant anything or was to mean anything, not only did the law itself have to have integrity, but so did the courts."

Following the hearings, Thomas attained a position on the Supreme Court, and Hill became a target of harsh criticism by many, including David Brock in The Real Anita Hill. In response, Hill decided to tell her own story, writing the book Speaking Truth to Power.

"I wanted people to understand that I was a full human being," says Hill. "When I came into the hearing, nobody knew anything about me, and you had just this little snapshot of me that got manipulated or distorted depending on who was presenting the snapshot."

Although Hill had to face the harsh realities of sudden notoriety following the hearings, she was also able to observe some positive results of her efforts. In the years following the hearings, the number of reports of sexual harassment cases increased dramatically, and significantly more women began running for public office. Hill acknowledges that these important changes stem from the fact that her testimony was not only relevant to herself and her specific work experiences, but transcended into the collective experience of working women.

"The issues that were raised in the hearing were issues that were affecting the lives of women everyday in the workplace," she concludes.

Hill explains that her belief in the value and power of law motivated her to participate in the hearings regarding Clarence Thomas’ appointment to the Supreme Court.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues
Chicago: “Basic Black; Conversation With Anita Hill,” 06/24/2002, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 22, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0EABDD2B127B4393BF19AA636A7EDC0A.
MLA: “Basic Black; Conversation With Anita Hill.” 06/24/2002. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 22, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0EABDD2B127B4393BF19AA636A7EDC0A>.
APA: Basic Black; Conversation With Anita Hill. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0EABDD2B127B4393BF19AA636A7EDC0A
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