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Anita Hill Discusses Impact of Housing Crisis and More
Before Welcoming Crowd at MCCC


5/7/12


West Windsor, N.J. - In an engaging talk that included personal history, some keen observations about how our troubled economic times impact women, and a call for women to become more vigorously involved in issues of gender equality, Professor Anita Hill, Esq., spoke to a packed auditorium at Mercer County Community College's Conference Center on May 2.

During her presentation, entitled "Reimagining Equality, An Evening with Anita Hill," Ms. Hill, the youngest of 13 children from a rural Oklahoma family, said she learned of the power of education from her mother, and developed a sense of self-worth from an early age that has guided her success.

Currently a professor at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., Ms. Hill first became widely known during the Senate hearings for Clarence Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court in 1991.

She noted that she came forward because of her concern about the integrity of the court. "The Supreme Court is only as good as the people who sit on it. These are lifetime appointments. The time was right for disruptive conversations about the realities of women's lives. My testimony didn't change things. Your reaction changed things," she said to the attendees.

Since that time, Hill has remained a champion for women's and racial equality and an advocate of women's rights. She notes that many women have contacted her to tell their stories in the workplace, and their experiences as mothers and daughters.

Recalling the recent debate about oral contraception for women and the testimony of Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke before Congress, Hill noted, "This is a transformative moment. It's time for young people to get re-engaged in gender equality issues and for young women to have their voices heard. We deserve a place at the table and to have our representatives listen."

Hill added, "There is a bundle of issues. Gender equality is not a simple formula. We have to be careful that women's health care does not take a backseat in the debate." She praised the two women currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sondra Sotomayor, and noted that more women need to be represented in government.

With regard to the impact of the housing crisis on women and the impoverished, the subject of her new book "Reimagining Equality," she explained that women will always be playing catch-up as long as their wages remain at $.77 for every dollar earned by men." With the rise in home ownership by women beginning in earnest at a time when subprime mortgage loans became popular, the foreclosure crisis has hit women especially hard. "We cannot assume that the issues will be resolved by the market," Hill said. "The next generation is at stake."

In the question-and-answer period, Ms. Hill addressed voter rights and offered advice to a single mother of a 6-year-old. "Make sure she has a strong sense of self and knowledge that she has something of value to offer the world," Hill said. She shared that her own mother advised her to "plan based on what you want for your future. You have to be ready for the opportunities."

Hill added, "If you stand up for your rights, you are going to be called names. Don't let people define you by their labels. And know that you have a sisterhood behind you."

With event proceeds to be donated to HomeFront, which works to end homelessness in Central New Jersey, the evening ended on a perfect note. HomeFront clients in attendance were asked to come forward to accept scholarships from the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association (NJWLA) to study at MCCC, which were presented by NJWLA President Wendy Lario.

Said HomeFront staff member Lynne Wise, "Many of our clients earn their GED through Mercer and 80 percent go on to college at Mercer. Once they get their first taste of success, they thrive."

The event was jointly presented by the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey (ABWL) and the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association. Sponsors included Mercer County Community College, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the American Association of University Women, the Collegiate Title Corporation, the National Congress of Black Women, and Rutgers Camden Law School.

Also participating in the program were MCCC President Dr. Patricia Donohue, ABWL President El-Rhonda Williams Alston, Esq., Dean and Provost of MCCC's James Kerney Campus Monica Weaver, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority President Geraldine Eure, Esq.


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Anita Hill expresses her views on issues of gender equality and the impact of the housing crisis on women.
Organizers and special guests, from left, Geraldine Eure, Esq., NJWLA President Wendy Lario, Esq., JKC Provost Monica Weaver, speaker Anita Hill, Esq., State Senator Shirley Turner, ABWL President El-Rhonda Williams Alston, Esq., MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue, and one of the event sponsors, Laurie Poulos, Esq.
Pictured with Anita Hill (center) are HomeFront clients, front row from left, Latavia Lopez, Helen Baeza, Shanell Hutchinson and Tiesha Horton; back row from left, HomeFront staffers Judy Long and Lynne Wise, client Kristen Lloyd; and Executive Director Connie Mercer.
Anita Hill accepts a commemorative award from the organizers.
Laurie Poulos, Esq., congratulates HomeFront clients, who were presented with NJWLA scholarships to continue their education at MCCC.
Audience members clap enthusiastically at the conclusion of Hill's talk.