Anita Hill received a voice mail from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asking her to apologize for accusations of sexual harassment that occurred nearly 20 years prior.
The documentary “Anita, Speaking Truth to Power,” opens with Hill playing the 2010 voice mail in her office at Brandeis University. The film was screened in the OSU-Tulsa auditorium Thursday night to a crowd of about 300.
The first half of the 95-minute movie alternates between excerpts of Hill’s nine-hour testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and her present day reactions to the testimony. During Thomas’s 1991 confirmation hearings, Hill was called to testify after a letter she wrote to the FBI about Thomas’ behavior was leaked to the media.
The film shows the committee asking Hill to repeat the sexual comments she alleged Thomas said to her while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She told the committee that Thomas talked about pornographic movies and once asked her who had put a pubic hair on his soft drink can.
After being asked by Sen. Howell Heflin if she had anything to gain by testifying, Hill said, “I have not gained anything except knowing that I came forward and did what I felt I had an obligation to do, and that was to tell the truth.” After which, the crowd in the auditorium applauded loudly.
The second half of the film showed college-age women talking about sexual harassment and how they have learned to deal with it. Interviews with Hill’s family were also shown.
“I absolutely could not have gone through this without my family,” Hill said. “I realize many women don’t have the support system that I had.”
After the movie, director Freida Mock and Hill answered questions from the audience.
The phone call from Ginni Thomas was not the catalyst for the movie being made 20 years after the hearings occurred, Mock said.
“She just made the film richer,” Mock said.
There were many people who said this was a he-said-she-said situation, and the truth cannot be known, Hill said.
“It’s a way of saying ‘I don’t want to deal with it’,” Hill said. “If you do the investigation and ask the right questions, you can get to the truth. But you have to be willing to take on the power that these men have.”