When Nathaniel Wright began looking for speakers for the university’s African American History Month Lecture Series, he aimed high. But he thought that perhaps Texas Tech’s location in a staunchly conservative city might not play well with his first invitee. He was shocked when Anita Hill readily accepted.
“At the time I thought it was a pipe-dream. I thought Anita Hill would never come to Texas Tech’s campus—we’re a more conservative town,” he says. “We’re probably a more conservative university compared to other universities across America. So I was very shocked when we extended the offer last semester, that she said yes with no hesitation.”
Anita Hill has been back in the news lately, 27 years after she gained national exposure in testifying at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1991, she brought sexual harassment to the fore when she told a Senate panel that Thomas had sexually harassed her when he was her boss.
“An Evening with Anita Hill” is the first part of the university’s African-American History Month Lecture Series in the Allen Theater. Nathaniel Wright says Hill hasn’t yet finalized what she’ll cover in her talk.
But Wright, who chairs the African-American History Month Lecture Series planning committee, says he feels confident she’ll talk about social inequality. Her most recent book is ‘Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home.’ But, he says, he can’t imagine she won’t talk about the #MeToo campaign.
“She has not solidified with us yet, her talk, but overall she’ll focus on her latest work, focused on inequality in America. She’s also going to focus on some of the aspects of the #MeToo campaign,” he explains. “It’s really hard to come and not talk about it with what’s going on and her role in it.”
The goal of the lecture series, Wright says, is to introduce the university and Lubbock communities to talented and accomplished African-American who’ve had an significant impact in their communities, careers and the world.
Recently, Hill was named to head the newly created Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. Its focus is the media and entertainment industries. She is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University.
“I had no idea that her visit here would have such an impact, not only for the African-American community, but also for women in general. Because we think about the #MeToo campaign, she really is—if you think about it—she’s like the mother of the campaign,” he says.
The second speaker, at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Allen Theater, will be two-time NAACP Image Award winner Michael Eric Dyson. His talk is entitled “Race, Racism, & Race Relations in America.”
The lectures are free and open to the public. Tickets can be picked up before each talk in Room 101 of Doak Hall.
“We’re expecting all 936 seats in the Allen Theatre to be full,” he says. “The President is really excited about this and he’s really been supportive. I’m really thankful to Dr. Schovanec, because without his commitment to the lecture series, we would not be able to have it.”
Previous speakers in the lecture series have included scholar and activist Angela Davis, author and entrepreneur Wes Moore, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte and public intellectual and activist Cornel West.
Wright acknowledged that when Hill said she would come, he felt a bit nervous about how the university administration would respond.
“Administration is so excited to have Anita Hill,” he says. “The law school is excited to have her. I think because she’s such a timely topic and I think that her talk will cross so many boundaries and topics that are so important to various groups across campus and also in the Lubbock community.”