Watch Anita Hill Get a Standing Ovation from Hundreds of Female Executives
Tuesday marked Day 2 of Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. A tradition of the event, now in its 20th year, is “The Big Get-to-Know-You,” a morning session that allows each of the several hundreds of executives in attendance introduce themselves to the group.
It’s a exercise in speed and concision—no tangents and no applause, please. And it was all going according to plan on Tuesday until Anita Hill took her turn.
As Hill—the university professor who accused now Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991—stood up to state her name, she was met with an uproarious and lasting standing ovation.
The episode points to the current flash point in women’s rights, what with the ongoing #MeToo movement, the rush of women running for office in the midterm elections, and the testimony last week by Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over accusations of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh denies. The Senate hearing last week mirrored—in remarkable fashion—Hill’s own experience 27 years ago, when an all-male panel of senators grilled her with questions that were explicit and graphic in nature.
Hill injected herself into the Kavanaugh controversy last month, with a New York Times op-ed in which she instructed senators on how they could get the Kavanaugh hearings “right.”
“There is no way to redo 1991,” she wrote, “but there are ways to do better.”