WU shows documentary on Anita Hill

In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, the Office of University of Diversity and Inclusion at Washburn hosted a viewing of the documentary film, “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” Oct. 16.


The film chronicles the hearing of Anita Hill, an attorney and law professor who accused Clarance Thomas of sexual harassment during his own Supreme Court nomination in 1991.

Melissa Posey, the program coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion said that the decision to show the film was an easy one to make.

“Recently Dr. Christine Blasey Ford went and testified in front of the Senate [Judicial] Committee,” Posey said. “I was…alive for the Anita Hill incident was happening, but I don’t really have any recollection of it.”

Posey said that she knew that the Ford hearing was similar to the Hill hearing and also that some students might not know about the 1991 incident.

“I know that the traditional age college student wasn’t alive when Anita Hill testified,” Posey said. “I thought this is and important thing to learn about, because history will repeat itself if we’re not trying to educate ourselves on what has happened and where we’ve come from and how we want to move forward.”

The film was made in 2012, six years before Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh and her testimony before the same committee Hill testified to. The similarities between the two testimonies and the events shown in the documentary were evident to those who attended.

“I think it’s timely and it’s sad to watch it,” said Molly Steffes-Herman, Washburn’s campus advocate and current graduate student in the social work department. “To think this was made and I can watch [it] and feel hopeful maybe before Dr. Ford had to testify.”

Steffes-Herman went on to say that after the Ford testimony the film takes on a different meaning.

“Now you watch it with a very different lens after what happened over the last month,” Steffes-Herman said.

As an advocate, Steffes-Herman felt that  it was hard seeing two women of accomplishment and high education testify without seeing the results they hoped for.

“Both of these women are in roles that people would hold in high esteem,” Steffes-Herman said. “What they say people usually believe. If an attorney was talking to me… I’m going to stop and listen. If a doctor talked to me I’m going to stop and listen. If we can look at women who have accomplished so much in their lives, if they can’t be believed, than why would anyone [be believed]. It’s just two people that are pretty amazing on paper. If they’re torn down why would I believe that I wouldn’t be.”

The film talked about these accomplishments of Hill, with one of the corroborating witnesses of Hill’s testimony stating that he thought if he saw Hill testifying before the Judiciary Committee it would be as a potential Justice herself.

“If they look this good on paper and they’re still doubted, what does this mean for the manager at Burger King who [makes these claims],” Posey said.

Diversity and Inclusion has other events coming up including a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture” on Nov. 7 put on by Queers and Allies and an upcoming panel discussion on agnostics, atheists and nones, people who do not identify with any religion, with a date to be announced later.