What the Defamation of Anita Hill Can Teach Us About the Kavanaugh Hearings

AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to go right now back to Chicago, where we have just hooked up by satellite historian Barbara Ransby. She is the person who helped to organize the letter called — or the movement called “African American Women in Defense of Ourselves,” a proclamation that was published in The New York Times in November of 1991, reading, quote, “We are particularly outraged by the racist and sexist treatment of Professor Anita Hill, an African American woman who was maligned and castigated for daring to speak publicly of her own experience of sexual abuse.”

We are joined by Professor Ransby now. If you can take us back to 1991, as we just heard Alexis Goldstein talking about organizing 1,100 women at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s alma mater and high school, what you did back with Anita Hill and why you did it?

BARBARA RANSBY: So, in 1991, we — myself, Elsa Barkley Brown and Deborah King — organized an ad campaign. And it was really in response to the — to what you’ve already described as the outrageous — what we felt was the outrageous treatment of Dr. Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We wanted to say we believed her. We also wanted to put her statement in a larger context of sexism and racism that black women experience. And we did this, you know, before the internet. So we got letters. We had an 800 phone line. You know, we really reached far and wide. And I think many people were watching the spectacle of those hearings and were outraged by it. And we wanted to give voice to that rage. We wanted to insert our voices as black feminists into a public discourse. And so we wanted to put the ad — we put the ad in The New York Times. We put it in several African-American newspapers, as well. And then an organization called AAWIDOO, African American Women in Defense of Ourselves, grew out of that and lasted for several years, engaged in various work around gender justice.

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