Anita Hill
Anita Hill
Speaking Truth to Power
ISBN: 0385476256
Speaking Truth to Power
After her astonishing testimony in the Clarence Thomas hearings, Anita Hill ceased to be a private citizen and became a public figure at the white-hot center of an intense national debate on how men and women relate to each other in the workplace. That debate led to groundbreaking court decisions and major shifts in corporate policies that have had a profound effect on our lives—and on Anita Hill's life. Now, with remarkable insight and total candor, Anita Hill reflects on events before, during, and after the hearings, offering for the first time a complete account that sheds startling new light on this watershed event.

Only after reading her moving recollection of her childhood on her family's Oklahoma farm can we fully appreciate the values that enabled her to withstand the harsh scrutiny she endured during the hearings and for years afterward. Only after reading her detailed narrative of the Senate Judiciary proceedings do we reach a new understanding of how Washington—and the media—rush to judgment. And only after discovering the personal toll of this wrenching ordeal, and how she copes, do we gain new respect for this extraordinary woman.

Here is a vitally important work that allows us to understand why Anita Hill did what she did, and thereby brings resolution to one of the most controversial episodes in our nation's history.

A graduate of Oklahoma State University and Yale Law School, Anita F. Hill served, until 1997, on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma. She lectures widely on the subjects of civil rights and sexual harassment in the workplace. She is currently working on a book about sexual harassment.

TRANSCRIPT
Speaking Truth to Power
Program Air Date: January 23, 1997

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Anita Hill, your book's title is "Speaking Truth to Power." What does that mean?
Ms. ANITA HILL, AUTHOR, "SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER": Well, I looked at the situation that I found myself in Washington, DC, in trying to tell my story, the truth about my experience to a hostile but very powerful organization in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I looked at attempting to help the media understand, and the power of the media, and really thought that this was a good way to express what my experience had been. And as I have shared the title with other people, have found that they feel the same way not only about my experiences, but what they experience when they make complaints about this kind of behavior or any number of other things that happened in their lives.
LAMB: What do you get when you buy this book?
Ms. HILL: Well, when you buy the book, you certainly do get an account of the hearings, a very real first-person account of the hearings; what it was like to sit through the day of testimony, what it was like to sit through--listening to other people's testimony, and how it was that I got organized and able to even do that day of testimony myself. But you also get a story about my life before then and the life of my family, and some of the--a sense of what I had been through before the hearing to get me through the hearings themselves. And you get a real sense of what my life has been since the hearings, which has been quite an interesting experience in and of itself.
LAMB: For those who might have forgotten, what was the date of the hearing?
Ms. HILL: October 11, 1991, was the date of my testimony. And a lot of people say to me, `Oh, I watched you testify,' and for some reason they think that that hearing lasted--my testimony lasted at least two or three days and maybe the whole hearing took weeks, but when they think back on it, they realize that I was only there one day and that was on a Friday--and that the hearings wrapped up by Sunday night. It was a--very short in terms of time span, episode, but it—I clearly had a larger impact.
LAMB: One of the names in the book that I'd never heard before is Lyle Boren.
Ms. HILL: Yes.
LAMB: Who is he? Who was he?
Ms. HILL: Lyle Boren is the father of former Senator David Boren, who was the senator from Oklahoma at the time of the hearings, a Democratic senator from Oklahoma. Lyle Boren was a person who was involved in politics in the state and--involved in the Democratic Party in the state. He was also an individual who called me during--immediately following the hearing, made a concerted effort to get in touch with me at the law school, talked to at least one other person at the law school, really to express his displeasure at his son's vote in favor of the confirmation of Clarence Thomas.

Now in fairness, I have to say that Senator Boren--or former Senator Boren, now the president of the University of Oklahoma, has disputed that. Or--he says that his father called for another reason. But that is absolutely not true. His father called to say that he was very angry about his son's vote and wanted to offer me any support that he could.
LAMB: What year was the call?
Ms. HILL: The call was immediately after the hearing, 1991. And it was in the next few weeks afterwards when the phone was ringing madly and he took the effort to keep calling until he got through.
LAMB: What was the vote?
Ms. HILL: The vote was 52-to-48...
LAMB: In?
Ms. HILL: ...in favor of confirmation. And that happened on October 15th.
LAMB: And you listed Chuck Robb and Alan Dixon and David Boren--and I wrote down the --and Richard Shelby, who's now a Republican, as the only four Democrats who voted...
Ms. HILL: They were...
LAMB: ...for Clarence Thomas.
Ms. HILL: If those four individuals had voted against the confirmation, it would not have happened. There were a few--well, Senator Packwood was one of the Republicans who voted against the confirmation. And there was--Mr. Dixon, from the Chicago area, I think lost his seat because of his vote in favor of the confirmation. Senator Boren has left the Congress now and is now the president of the University of Oklahoma, which is another part of a story.
LAMB: Yeah. Have you ever met Senator Boren?
Ms. HILL: I have once met him.
LAMB: And where was that?
Ms. HILL: That was at a university social function. I had attempted to try to set up a meeting with him in 1995 to discuss some matters including the Hill professorship that had been getting--had received some unfavorable treatment at the university and particularly outside of the university from some politicians. I wanted some assurances that that would not continue under his reign at the university. I tried to set up a meeting with him. He would not set up a meeting with me even though he said he had an open-door policy. And the reasoning that he gave was that he thought that meeting with me might have a negative impact on conservative legislators as they were determining what the university budget should be.

I did not meet him during the hearings. We made an attempt to call him. The dean of the law school, David Swank, who was the dean of the University of Oklahoma Law School where I worked, and from which Senator Boren had graduated, made a concerted effort to call Senator Boren. None of the calls were returned, so I never spoke with him during the time of the hearing. Interestingly enough, the Republican senator, Don Nickles, did return the phone call and I did speak with him on the telephone.
LAMB: And what did he say to you?
Ms. HILL: Well, it was really-- it was more--it was worse than a courtesy call. It was a call I think that really wasn't interested in talking about the issue and the full importance of what was going on. He did, however, invite me and my family to come by his office if we were out sightseeing during the time of the hearing. But sightseeing was the farthest thing from what I was doing on October 11th through the 13th in Washington, DC. So it was a kind of a strange call. He talked about the difficulties in getting to Washington, transportation from Washington, Oklahoma City and having to have layovers, but it wasn't a call to talk about the substance of what was going on or my testimony.
LAMB: Another thing in your book is personal and physical. You had tumors that were giving you a lot of pain, you say, through the whole experience. What was that all about? And did you eventually have an operation?
Ms. HILL: I did. The tumors were very painful and on a normal day I would start out in some amount of pain. I'd just start out feeling OK in the morning, but with some pain. And by the end of the day, on a normal day, I would have enough pain that I would take pain medication. Now none of those days were normal at the time of the hearing and certainly during the testimony there was so much stress that I was in incredible pain by the end of that day and the days that followed. And eventually I did have surgery to have them removed. Even the doctor was surprised that there were a number of tumors, quite large--some of them quite large.
LAMB: Malignant? Benign?
Ms. HILL: All benign.
LAMB: Did you know at the time they were benign?
Ms. HILL: We did not know. We didn't know how extensive the growths were. We didn't know how extensive the surgery would have to be. So it was very difficult-- there was some concern that I might have to have a hysterectomy because of the tumors. Fortunately, that didn't prove to be true. But it was one of the things that was on my mind because it was a very important part of my future that I was considering at the same time that I was going through the hearings.
LAMB: Why did you wait six years to write the book?
Ms. HILL: You know, some people think I should have written this book four years ago or immediately after the hearing. When I came home from Washington, when I left and went back to Oklahoma, I wanted nothing more than to my life to go back to normal and writing a book was just not in the cards. Eventually I realized, though, that I had to write this book, that what had happened in Washington was not only of significance to me and my life and had changed my life forever, but had changed many people's lives. And I wanted to give a first-person account of how it had changed my life and the impact that it had on others as, at least, I felt it, or they had expressed it to me.

And I really also wanted it to be a thoughtful book. I didn't want it to be one of those books that just happens and just is sort of this--captures or takes advantage of an issue when it's on the front page. I wanted it to be a book that gave some consideration to the larger issues, and that took six years to do.
LAMB: How did you do it?
Ms. HILL: Wow. How did I do it? Well, you know...
LAMB: And where?
Ms. HILL: I did it in California. I took a year's leave of absence, unpaid leave, from the university. And I sat down with a laptop computer. I was in a town that was not far from where—I have three sisters that live in Los Angeles, so this small--this town --Laguna Beach, California--it's a beautiful place. But I didn't know anyone there, really.
LAMB: Did they know you?
Ms. HILL: Well, they knew me and there were some wonderful people there who were very supportive. But I knew that I needed to be away from the telephone and away from the social demands that I might have if I went to a city where I was better known or where I had friends. So I sat in an office down there with a laptop computer and I was scared to death initially 'cause I had never written a book and never even thought of myself as someone who could write a book.

And I just began almost with some questions that had come up from time to time from people who really had a sincere interest in understanding what had happened during the hearings. People asked, of course, `How did you get through it?' People ask, of course--you know, they understand that the hearings failed, but they really wanted to know, expressly, how did it fail? What went wrong? And what might have been done right?

So I started, really, with some questions that had been put to me and I just started trying to answer those questions. Eventually, it came back to my family when I looked at that question about how I got through it. It came back to my family and some of their struggles in the past and present. And so I knew I had to write about my family in order for people to really understand me and what I care about and who I am and certainly who I was in 1991.

And that was really the first part of the book. Now the second part was a little harder. I had press clippings--the second part's about the hearing itself. And I had press clippings. I had a transcript of the hearing. And I really sat down and immersed myself in the hearings, revisited the hearings, because I wanted that part of the book to be real, as it happened. And I wanted to almost re-experience it so that I could tell people what it was like to experience it. That was hard. Very hard.
LAMB: And you ended with a letter to the 1991 Judiciary Committee. What's that about?
Ms. HILL: Well, it's really about keeping this from happening again. And there was some suggestion by Senator Paul Simon at the time of the hearing that somebody please help us do better, somebody advise us on how this could have been handled and how it could have been handled better. I sat down and thought about it. What I thought about what had happened and where I think that went wrong and how it could have been done better.

And one of the things primarily that I thought of was--you know, here I was a private citizen coming into Washington, DC, facing a process that I really didn't understand and didn't really know how to navigate very well. And it wasn't made easier for me. And I thought if there is another citizen with information that's relevant to the process, they shouldn't have to face the kind of roadblocks that I had to face.

And so I write it in terms of a private citizen with information coming to the seat of power--how can they get that information before the committee and how can they get it taken seriously and evaluated for what it is? And so that's what the last segment is about. But the other--there's another part of the book that's really about my life since the hearings, too.
LAMB: So where do you live now and what do you do?
Ms. HILL: I live in Oklahoma, in Norman, Oklahoma, which is where I've lived since 1986. I'm no longer with the University of Oklahoma. I'm right now devoting full time, really, to talking about this book and what happened. This is really the first public appearances that I have made to talk specifically about the hearings. And I hope to be teaching again soon, but I do have a contract for another book on sexual harassment.
LAMB: I was trying to find the quote in here--yeah, here it is, "I fled from Oklahoma," which you call, `a harsh place.' Now you were born where in Oklahoma?
Ms. HILL: I was born in a small community called Lone Tree, Oklahoma. I was actually physically born in Okmulgee, but I was only in the doctor's office long enough to be born, and then my mom brought me back that same day to Lone Tree, which is a very small community I'm sure nobody has ever really heard of, and certainly no one's been there, or very few people have been there.

But it's a rural community in eastern Oklahoma. It's a farm community. It's not an incorporated town. And it's--in some ways, it's a very isolated area. My family's home was merely the only place that you could see. If you stood in our front yard, you couldn't see another house. So that's where I grew from, grew up.
LAMB: What'd your parents do then?
Ms. HILL: My parents were both farmers. We worked the farm. And I guess it was made a little bit easier by 13 children, my brothers and sisters. But they're both farmers and have been really all their lives. Now my father did go work outside of the farm for a period of time, but as the children grew older, and particularly his sons grew older, he came back to the farm and took up farming full time.
LAMB: Are they both still alive?
Ms. HILL: Both of them are still alive.
LAMB: How old are they?
Ms. HILL: Now my mom just turned 86. At the time of the hearing, she was a few days before her 80th birthday. She turned 86. My father will be 86 in February.
LAMB: And where do you fit in the 13?
Ms. HILL: Oh, I'm the youngest. I'm the youngest of 13, which was great, which is great.
LAMB: And you say that you never went to a segregated school and 11 of the 13 only went to segregated schools?
Ms. HILL: Right. Ten graduated from segregated schools. And the history of Oklahoma is such that even though I went to an integrated school, it wasn't integrated because of the decision by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education. The integration of my school, which took place in about 19--oh, gosh, in the late '50s or early '60s--took place because it was a tiny rural school that was threatened to be closed. And rather than close the school, just to get the number of pupils they would need to keep it open, they opened it up to integration.

But it's also very interesting that my brothers and sisters who went to segregated schools--one impact of the integration of the schools was that--not that they were now going to an integrated high school, but some of them ended up going to a different segregated school simply because it became illegal to bus people across county lines to go to an integrated school. You could still send kids to an in--segregated school, but you couldn't bus them across county lines to go to a segregated school. So there were some bizarre twists and it wasn't really until the '60s that the schools actually became integrated by state law in the state of Oklahoma.
LAMB: Now your friends don't call you Anita.
Ms. HILL: Well, my family friends don't. Some people in Morris, Oklahoma, where I went to high school, my family doesn't, they all call me by my middle name, Faye.
LAMB: And you got a telephone in your farmhouse for the first time what year?
Ms. HILL: Well, it was about the time I was 13 years old, so that would make it the late '60s. It was quite an event. You know, we had lived without the telephone and I guess we used it primar--we're on a party line in rural Oklahoma and my cousin and my uncle were the other people on the party line. And it was quite an event. But I don't think--we certainly didn't use the telephone then in the same way that we do now. I'm glad for the telephone now, especially because when I left school—left home, it was a--you know, my parents, I'm sure, were suffering from the empty nest syndrome and it was a way for my mom to connect with some friends and really talk to people in ways that she hadn't been able to do before. But it was a big event to get a telephone in our house.
LAMB: When did you say you used to go to the library as early as the fourth grade.
Ms. HILL: Well, that's kind of an interesting thing because the library in our school was really sort of this row of books in our—in the classroom. And I always loved books even from first grade when I--you know, even before that when I first learned to read. And one of the great benefits of having so many older brothers and sisters who are in school is that they teach you how to read early on so that you get involved with books through their schoolwork even before you actually start to school. And I used to love the library in our school even though it wasn't really very sophisticated and it wasn't very extensive. But I'd spend time reading and I'd get through with my classwork early so that I could read the books that were there.
LAMB: Where did you go to college?
Ms. HILL: I went to college at Oklahoma State University.
LAMB: What'd you study?
Ms. HILL: Psychology. Psychology. It was a tossup. I really wanted to go into the hard sciences, but at the time I think because I had come from this rural background and didn't have the extensive science courses, although I was very good at the ones I did have, and also because I think I was female and black, there was not a lot of support for that decision. I went into social science and I enjoyed that as well. And it wasn't until later that I became convinced that I was gonna go to law school, that I actually could accomplish that.
LAMB: And where'd you go to law school?
Ms. HILL: Yale Law School.
LAMB: Why?
Ms. HILL: Interestingly, I had always thought that I wanted to go to Harvard Law School because Harvard was, as far as I knew, and especially people in the rural Midwest, thought of this as the premiere law school. And I visited Harvard Law School and I visited Yale, and I found Yale to be a much friendlier place, just as rigorous. And then I went off to--and I was almost convinced--I got into both--and I was almost convinced to go to Yale, but I still really wanted to go to Harvard.

So I went from Yale--the visit at Yale to the visit at Harvard, and it didn't seem to be as friendly a place. It didn't seem to be as—a place as concerned about my getting a good legal education as Yale was. And then one of the students who I encountered said to me, `Well, if you got into Yale, of course you would go there, you wouldn't come to Harvard.'

And that was telling to me not just because it was this one person's opinion, but because it--someone who probably had seen opportunity to go to both and the smart thing to do is to go to Yale. That was my gut reaction after visiting, but I had to really let go of this idea that I had that Harvard Law School was the best place for me to be.
LAMB: What year did you graduate from Yale?
Ms. HILL: 1980.
LAMB: When did you come to Washington?
Ms. HILL: I came to Washington in 1980, the fall of 1980. Studied for the bar and passed the bar in the fall of 1980. And here I was.
LAMB: First job?
Ms. HILL: First job was with a law firm and I had worked with this law firm before, had been a summer clerk at the firm and really liked the people there, liked the atmosphere at the firm, and I thought I could do some really good work there. I had a lot of interest in business and commercial work and this was, you know, a firm that offered me a chance to do that kind of work.
LAMB: How long were you there?
Ms. HILL: Well, interestingly, after thinking that that's what I wanted to do, I got there, I worked there a year. The work was interesting and challenging, but it wasn't something that I could feel personally connected with. And having grown up and really come of age in the civil rights era, I knew that these were issues that I cared about and that I wanted to do work in. And I made a switch after a year at the firm.
LAMB: To?
Ms. HILL: Made a switch to government. I worked at the office for civil rights at the Department of Education; was hired by Clarence Thomas.
LAMB: You remember the first time you ever met him?
Ms. HILL: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. He was actually introduced to me by someone who worked at the law firm that had hired me. And they had been friends and yet--both had gone to Yale Law School. And it was in the home of this friend, Gil Hardy, this mutual friend, that I met Clarence Thomas.
LAMB: First impression?
Ms. HILL: Well, it was--the first impression was a contrast between Gil Hardy and Clarence Thomas. I had been close to Gil. We lived in the same building, worked at the same place, and often walked to work together. So I kept in close to Gil. Gil was a clearly very bright person, very thoughtful and very personable. People at the law firm liked him a lot and really he was the kind of person you just wanted to be around because he was a delightful person and cared about things and was doing a good job. Thomas was not as personable--not nearly as personable. He seemed a little bit rough around the edges. He as smooth as Gil. But Gil assured me that he was also a very solid person and that he would do a good job when he got an appointment with the government, which is what he was--the Reagan administration, which is what he was hoping to have happen at the time that I met him.
LAMB: And your politics in 1981--did you have any?
Ms. HILL: Well, I guess to an extent that I had any, I really—in terms of civil rights issues. As I said, I'd grown up really in --what some people would consider to be the south during the time of the civil rights movement, and very much felt a part of that movement and felt that I had been really fortunate to take advantage of living in that era, that a lot of opportunities were provided for me that weren't even provided for my older siblings because of the civil rights movement and the advances made. So I was very much supportive of what had happened and wanted to show my support and to work in that area.

I guess politically what that would do --would make me more--somewhere --on the left politically. But at the same time, I was assured that even though Clarence Thomas worked at the time for a Republican senator and --this was a Republican administration that my ideas and my work could be valued. And I knew that there were still people at the Department of Education who felt the way I did and that I could work very, very well with those people.
LAMB: How long did you work for Clarence Thomas?
Ms. HILL: Altogether, two years. You'll remember that there were two different positions--first at the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
LAMB: You left him what year and went where?
Ms. HILL: In 1986 I left and went into teaching at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went home. I went home.
LAMB: And how long were you at Oral Roberts?
Ms. HILL: I was at Oral Roberts for three years. And that institution--the law school part of the institution eventually got sold to Pat Robertson's university in Virginia. I chose not to go there and, at that time, started looking for another job, found one at the University of Oklahoma Law School just two hours from where I'd been living--approximately two hours.
LAMB: In your life, how much racism have you seen and…
Ms. HILL: Oh, gosh.
LAMB: ...and how do you see it--when do you see it?
Ms. HILL: Gosh, how much? How to--it's hard to even quantify it. It really is...
LAMB: Do you see it today?
Ms. HILL: I see it today. I really do, and certainly there—a lot of it is much more sophisticated than what I grew up with as a young person and even more sophisticated than some of it that I experienced when I was first teaching. I experienced it at the hands of students when I first started teaching at Oral Roberts University and even at the University of Oklahoma.
LAMB: And you were the only woman and only black at Oral Roberts University?
Ms. HILL: Only woman, only black there at the time on the entire faculty, and then at the University of Oklahoma, only black on that faculty. There had been two males--black males prior to me in the history of that university, but I, at the time, was the only one there. I'm not sure how one fared at the university, but I do think that the second one, who was a little closer to me in age and time frame, did feel that--that his experience was tainted by resistance to him because of his race. I certainly feel that my experience and the perception of me was tainted to some extent early on at the university because of my race. So I still experience it.
LAMB: What's the tip-off, though, that somebody's being racist?
Ms. HILL: Oh, the tip-off really--the tip-off really came to me with people talking--telling me about what was going on in the classroom. When I would call on people, there would be racially derogatory whispers and remarks made. There was resistance to my hiring, saying that, of course, I was hired because I was black and female, and at the same time, another white male wasn't hired, even though we weren't comparable candidates. He was teaching in a completely different area. But the idea that my hiring was viewed through a racial prism came through even though there was no basis for it.

There was really not so much a tip-off as things that were said that were reported back to me. And granted, maybe all of the information is not reliable, but you can't discount it. You just can't deny all of it. And then in the classroom, there would be resistance to responding to questions or an attitude of indifference and disrespect toward a professor. So you take those combined with the racial statements that have been reported to you, it becomes pretty clear.
LAMB: What about sexual harassment?
Ms. HILL: Oh, you know, amazingly, this was not an issue that I had attached to at all. I taught employment discrimination, interestingly enough, when I was at Oral Roberts, and not only did I not attach to this issue, even though I had had my experience--the experience that I'd had in Washington with Clarence Thomas, in the casebook that I taught from, I think there were, like--there was, like, a page and a half--out of all of the gender discrimination material, 100 or so pages of gender discrimination material, there was, like, a page and a half on sexual harassment. So it was not only an issue that I really didn't give much thought to, but it was also an issue that the publishers of a book dealing with discrimination didn't give a lot of thought to.
LAMB: Define it.
Ms. HILL: Oh, gosh. Define it. Well, you know, there are EOC guidelines that define it and there are two forms of it. There is a quid pro quo sexual harassment which is defined by someone basically requiring sexual demands in return for keeping a job or getting a promotion. That is, if you give me these sexual favors or do perform these sexual favors, then you will get promoted, you will get hired, you will get--you'll get raises. If you don't, then you will be fired or dismissed or demoted. So there is that form.

There's a hostile environment sexual harassment, which--a hostile environment forum is the creation of an environment that is so rife with sexual innuendo that it creates a hostile workplace for the individual who is the target of the sexual innuendo. That can be innuendo, it can be insults, it can be jokes, it can be-- and, of course, it can go into the level of touching and sexual assault. So it's a broad range of behavior and...
LAMB: You talk a lot in here, in your book, about the sexual harassment that you saw from Clarence Thomas. Have you gotten it from others in your life?
Ms. HILL: You know, I suppose we've all experienced the jokes that make us uncomfortable, that the innuendos or suggestions--but I had never experienced anything like what I experienced with Clarence Thomas. There's another thing that I do have to say, too, about the hearings, and that is that when I went to Washington, what I thought I was doing was providing information about the character and fitness of the individual. I did not see my role as going to Washington, DC, to file a complaint about sexual harassment. And I think the tables were turned on me and it became, `Unless she can support her claim of sexual harassment, then we cannot recognize what she has to say,' and it put a--really an improper burden on me. And the standard really should have been whether or not I had credible evidence that went to the character and fitness of this particular nominee. And really as--when I provided that credible evidence, as long as it went to the character and fitness and long as it was relevant, I maintained that whether it came to the level of a complaint--a legal complaint for sexual harassment--really was not the issue. The issue was the character and fitness of this individual for this particular office.
LAMB: You say in the book that: `I found no sympathy for my situation from the media.'
Ms. HILL: You know, I'm sure there were some sympathetic people within the media, but that was not what I was faced with when I had the barrage of reporters camped out across the street in my neighbors' yards. That was not what I experienced when I returned to my home after being in a hotel--returned to my home at 5:00 in the morning to be practically ambushed by someone with a camera and lights and it --stuck a mike in my face, demanding some kind of a statement from me. So at that point, there may have been sympathy, but I did not feel it. And I didn't feel that-- I felt that if there had been real sympathy, that they would've realized that--the intrusion on my life and they would've handled it with a lot more sensitivity.
LAMB: What would you say the media's attitude is toward you today?
Ms. HILL: I think it's improved. Certainly it's improved. I think it's improved toward the topic. I think shortly after the hearing in particular there was a concerted effort by many individuals to educate people, `What is this issue?' and to look at it as a workplace issue. That was not what the media was going for at the time of the hearing. They were going for the Washington political scandal angle, and that was what they pursued. And they pursued me as part of that instead of looking at this as an issue involving how people interact with each other in the workplace. That's changed, and I'm really thankful for that, but that has been a part of the evolution.
LAMB: Have you ever talked to Clarence Thomas since...
Ms. HILL: Have not.
LAMB: When was the last time you had a conversation with him?
Ms. HILL: Gosh, the last time I had a conversation with him must've been at least, oh, three or four years--maybe--no, let's see, the hearings were in 1991, I left Washington in 1983--I would say probably at least three or four years. Since I was at the University of Oklahoma, I may have had one talk with him. I went to University of Oklahoma in 1986 and I will tell you why I remember that conversation. It was a conversation we had about Gil Hardy, who was killed in an accident, died tragically in an accident, and if you'll recall, Gil Hardy was the person who introduced us. That's the last conversation I had with him.
LAMB: How do you think he's handled himself since becoming a justice?
Ms. HILL: Well, I think, unfortunately for him, after the hearings in an article that he and his--both he and his wife participated in, he made a statement that he was not evolving. His wife stated that she felt that she'd been--he'd been badly treated and that he owed nobody--he owed nobody. I think that that was an expression of close-mindedness and bitterness, and I tend to think that has not been overcome, that you see some of that seeping through his opinions--that's unfortunate. You know, you can't take away him as a person and, of course, he is a person, he's entitled to some humanity. But at the same time, this office is--it needs to be bigger than that--the Supreme Court needs to be bigger than that.
LAMB: Did you ever watch a tape of your own performance?
Ms. HILL: I watched parts of it. I've watched parts of it, yeah. And the thing that I think about when I see it is how painful it was and how it's written all over my face during some of the worst parts of the testimony. I was struggling so hard to help people understand what had happened, and it was so hurtful to me and--to have my parents in the room and to feel really helpless to protect them against it and for them to feel that same sense of helplessness in protecting me against it.
LAMB: You mention almost all 14 senators by name at one point or the other and --have things to say about them. I'm gonna bring them up to you and get your reaction now. Senator Strom Thurmond.
Ms. HILL: Well, as a matter of fact, one of the things I think about --because sometimes people ask me, would it have been different if I had been a white female? Senator Sturmond--I think his attitude would've been very different, that he would've been much more reluctant to embrace the African-American Clarence Thomas had the person who had accused him of making improper sexual comments to her been a white female. I think it was part of politics at the time and I think his politics would have been colored--and were colored by my race. You know, he was not really an active participant. And I guess if I think back to the hearings, I keep remembering him asking me to speak into the mike, you know. So, you know, he was there, he was definitely a player and lending his support to Clarence Thomas in some ways that, I think, have racial implications for me. But I certainly don't think he took the most active role.
LAMB: What about Senator Biden?
Ms. HILL: Senator Biden I'm very disappointed in, not because I expected that the Democrats were going to embrace me and make this a political effort to use me to attack Clarence Thomas--in fact, I didn't want them to do that. But I did expect that he would have--hold a fair proceeding. And as the chairman of the committee, it was his job to do that. And there was just--that just did not happen. The proceeding just collapsed in a variety of ways over the course of that weekend. And so, I do hold him responsible for that.
LAMB: Did he call you--and you quote him calling you "kiddo"?
Ms. HILL: He did. He did in a conversation that took place before I left for Washington. It was a conversation that took place on Wednesday evening when he called to say that the Senate had voted to hold a hearing and that I would be subpoenaed. And in a conversation where he starts out saying--it was sort of this, `Aw, shucks, kiddo, I really feel for you.' And I was sitting--and I remember I took notes on this conversation because I was wanting to know what the process was gonna be--`What are we gonna do? How is it gonna happen?' And I was sitting there with a pencil--or a pen and a yellow pad taking down word for word what he was saying 'cause I wanted to know. And this was really the tone that he was--sort of this condescending tone and he felt sympathetic for me and that, you know, he would represent me if he weren't the chair of the committee. But it was clear that he had no sense about what was going to happen or how hard this was gonna be for me.
LAMB: Senator Alan Simpson.
Ms. HILL: Senator Simpson was frightening and, whether he intended to or not, threatening. His statement about me experiencing good old-fashioned Washington harassment could only be viewed as a threat, especially with hindsight of what, in fact, happened and that he participated in. It was almost as though it was a warning, `This is what we're going to do.' It wasn't as though he were saying, `This is what she could experience and I hope it doesn't happen.' He says, `It's gonna be nasty. And guess what? I'm gonna be one of the ones participating in it,' and he did. You know, he—and probably the most theatrical, although it's kind of hard to say whether he was the most theatrical with his--waving his pockets and saying, `I have information coming over the transom,' or whether Orrin Hatch was the more theatrical in waving the copy of "The Exorcist" around. So I think that he struck me as being the most vicious and the most deliberate in making clear that he was going to attack.
LAMB: Senator Metzenbaum.
Ms. HILL: Senator Metzenbaum, I think, really had some political sympathy. I don't think that he understood--even he understood, though, the real-life aspects of what I was doing and how important it--how real this was and that this wasn't just another political battle. But--plus, I don't think he had any reinforcement. The person who might've helped him was Senator Kennedy and Senator Kennedy was in his own predicament. He was called as a witness to testify in a rape trial that his nephew was involved in. And so I think that he was probably afraid because of his own vulnerability to lend his support to Senator Metzenbaum.
LAMB: Have you talked to any of these senators on that committee since then?
Ms. HILL: Well, I have--that's an interesting point. I talked to Senator Simon. There have been some efforts by Senator Metzenbaum to contact me. Senator Simon, I think, has been the most forthcoming. And there was an effort by Senator Kennedy, I think, to make contact--it wasn't a concerted effort. I think--I'm not sure if it was out of sympathy for me or he wanted to leave it alone. I really haven't talked to any other one of the senators except for--very recently, as in this past weekend, I was in the airport --in Oklahoma City and I saw a person in the airport who looked an awful like--lot like Arlen Specter. And I thought, `This can't be happening because Arlen Specter is not gonna be in Oklahoma City.' In fact, it was Arlen Specter. And so I did have an encounter—chance encounter with Arlen Specter this week. It's the first I've ever talked to him.
LAMB: What happened?
Ms. HILL: Well, I think we were both a little shocked, and he recovered more quickly than I did, I think. He looked at me at the security X-ray belt and said, `Professor,' and I said, `Senator,' and then it was almost bizarre because he began to talk with me about what--asked me if I was on a book tour and told me that he was at the university for a reunion. He'd actually gone to the University of Oklahoma and was there for a reunion weekend. And he had-- it was as though we were having a conversation between acquaintances, that--but for me, it was as though those six years didn't matter. When someone's called you--accused you of flat-out perjury on national TV, especially when they have no basis for it, I could not just jump into a conversation with him as though we had just been civil acquaintances.

So it was difficult for me and I hurriedly tried to get out of the way. Later on he encountered me--it turns out we were on the same flight. He encountered me and made some overture about working on issues that he--giving him some advice on issues that he was working on, on women's issues. It was at that point I realized that he had no sense of how my life had been impacted by his behavior, that he was just that out of touch with the reality of my experience. For him, I think it was another political episode, and for me, it was really about my life. And I don't think he got that at all. I didn't get any sense that he had. So, you know, I don't know if I want an apology from him, but I do want some sense that he understands what he did and what was wrong about what he did.
LAMB: How has your life changed?
Ms. HILL: It has been--it's, in some ways, it has been very, very difficult. In some ways, it has been very, very rewarding and fulfilling. It's very hard to be viewed so disparately. I mean, some people see me as a heroine, and other people see me as the worst villain having come in and there are people who just feel that I lied and tried to ruin Clarence Thomas. And so what I have tried to do really is take into account all of those and really make my life better and more productive. It's been work--it's been hard work. Writing this book was helpful because it helped me bring some kind of closure to it and put it in perspective. It's been hard, but it's also been rewarding because I've seen potential that I did not know I had. That has been tested and--in some ways, and I think this book is a testament to that. In some ways, I would never have lived those potentials had it not been for those hearings. So it's a mixed bag.
LAMB: Remember at the time--and you even quote Senator Heflin in here, and you refer to a speaking engagement where you had a fee that--people said, `You're doing this for money; you're doing it'--'cause, you know, `When you gonna write your book?'
Ms. HILL: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...I don't--I think--didn't you say at the beginning you were getting $30,000 somewhere to speak.
Ms. HILL: Yeah. Somebody said that. It didn't happen.
LAMB: Do you speak for fees now...
Ms. HILL: I do.
LAMB: ...and will you make a pretty good amount of money off this book?
Ms. HILL: Well, I think if the book sales--yes, I will make money off this book. I'm not as--you know, I was at one point very embarrassed by that, but I'm not embarrassed. I think in a lot of ways the people who didn't want me to speak for fees, didn't want me to write the book were really, in other ways, trying to keep me from saying anything and, in other ways, really trying to keep me silent all over again. They didn't wanna hear what I had to say anyway, and they certainly didn't wanna hear it if somebody was gonna pay me.

But I think that I had to write this book. I really--I had to. And I hope that people will read it and understand that I'm not trying to redo the hearings. That is not my point. I'm really trying to explain what happened to me and what has happened really in society since those hearings. And I worked very hard at it and I'm very proud of it. And for that reason, I hope it's successful and I hope people will read it.
LAMB: You've got a photo on the cover of yourself taken by Annie Leibovitz. Who is she?
Ms. HILL: She's a wonderful photographer who has a great reputation and earns it, works very hard. This picture was taken a few years ago, was not taken for a book cover, but I really was privileged to be able to work with her. And I think--I love the simplicity of the photo and I think it really does capture me.
LAMB: Where was it taken?
Ms. HILL: It was taken in New York in her studio.
LAMB: How many pictures or photos did she take before she got this one?
Ms. HILL: Oh, lots of photos--lots of photos, lots of pictures, and the woman is a true artist. As I said, it wasn't taken for the cover of the book, but we looked at it and saw that it was really--captured me in a way that perhaps no other photo had before. You know, it's so funny, too, about the commercialization of-- I suppose if I had really wanted to take advantage of the moment, I would've written this book--if I had really wanted to rake in more money, I would've written this book long ago. I would've been out telling my story long ago, long before. But I waited and I think there--I did that because I wanted the story to have integrity and not be tainted by the sense of it being only done for commercial purposes. And I think if you give the book a chance, if you read it, you'll realize that that's the case.
LAMB: There's been some talk lately about some of the people that are--interview you looking like they were on your side.
Ms. HILL: Mm-hmm. Oh, I'm sure.
LAMB: And you write in the book about people you don't think were on your side. I think you mentioned Katie Couric in the book and there were some other...
Ms. HILL: Oh, I think...
LAMB: ...well-known figures. What I'm getting at...
Ms. HILL: Yeah.
LAMB: Here's the question, though. Do you know when you sit down here whether we're on your side or against you?
Ms. HILL: No, and I'm not even sure whether Katie Couric was on my side or not. But I do think that even when people say that, `Oh, I think that he must be on her side,' or, `She must be on'--it doesn't mean that they necessarily understand me and what I'm trying to say. And I just ask that an interviewer be open to hearing what I am trying to say. So, of course, I'm not gonna get into an interview situation where somebody's yelling at me and accusing me of all kinds of things and not allowing me to talk.
LAMB: Has that ever happened since you...
Ms. HILL: No, it hasn't because I don't allow myself to get into that situation. I think that an interviewer can be respectful and open-minded, to listening and it doesn't necessarily mean that you're on the person's side. It's really about civility.
LAMB: Do you get yourself --do you debate on this issue at all?
Ms. HILL: I have not. I have not debated on this issue. I would be happy to do so. I think what I'm calling for, what I ask for in an interviewer--I don't know when I come in and interview what the person's thinking. I don't know whether --they even like this book or dislike it, you know. I just know that the person has an inter--a reputation as an interviewer who reads material, is intelligent, will ask intelligent questions, will probably ask some hard questions, but that's good. It gives me a chance to explain and answer the hard questions.
LAMB: In the book -- you list four things that you deal with in the book, and we haven't dealt with all of them here--there's not enough time.
Ms. HILL: No.
LAMB: The leak, the hearing, the process and the media. And we don't have much time, but on the leak--you spent a lot of time on the leak. Do you know who leaked this?
Ms. HILL: I have no idea. You know, there was an investigation of the leak after the fact...
LAMB: Peter Fleming?
Ms. HILL: Peter Fleming did the investigation. That investigation turned out to be --intrusive in and of itself with the subpoena of my phone records and questions about conversations I had with family members. They didn't discover with any certainty who leaked the information. I don't know who leaked it.
LAMB: There was some informa--this is just an aside, where you went to take your polygraph and Charles Ogletree, your lawyer, took you to have your own polygraph taken during the hearings and that Lloyd Cutler showed up in that mix somewhere.
Ms. HILL: Lloyd Cutler showed up in the mix before I went--before I testified. He was at a meeting in a law firm we had arranged –a former partner at my first law firm had arranged for us to use a conference room in Washington, DC. That was on the Thursday before I testified on Friday. Lloyd Cutler came to that meeting and was there momentarily--well, not momentarily. He was there for some time, maybe an hour or so. We broke and I never saw him again, nor did I ever hear from him again. Now granted, my phone lines were jammed. I don't know if he made an attempt to hear--to contact me, but I personally never heard from him again. He was not one of the people who showed up the next day to offer me advice during the hearing.
LAMB: But he did speak out?
Ms. HILL: Well, I understand that he was a source of-- a news story --for a op-ed piece that was very critical of me.
LAMB: Why would he do that?
Ms. HILL: I do not know. I can only speculate that he didn't wanna be involved with my testimony. After all, you know, this was not testimony that people were really comfortable with. Actually talking about the kinds of things that I talked about in public—it was the first time it'd been done, and maybe he just felt that this was not the kind of thing he wanted to be associated with personally.
LAMB: When's your...
Ms. HILL: I don't know.
LAMB: When's your next book out?
Ms. HILL: Hopefully within the next year or so.
LAMB: On sexual harassment.
Ms. HILL: It's a book on sexual harassment.
LAMB: This is the current book, Anita Hill's "Speaking Truth to Power." Thank you very much for joining us.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1997. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.