Remarks from Pat Schroeder Former Member of the United States Congress from Colorado who could not attend.
Introduction by Letty Cottin Pogrebin Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later
Good morning. I am Letty Cottin Pogrebin – co-chair with Kathleen Peratis – of today’s conference. In the interest of time, we’ve all agreed to introduce ourselves with the briefest of bios, so here’s mine: I’m a writer, social justice activist, author of nine books, and a founding editor of Ms. Magazine. The end.
Ten months ago, when we started planning today’s program, the first person we asked to speak was former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder of Colorado. You may remember that when she first ran for the house, Pat was famously asked by one of the Old Boys on the Hill, “How can you be a Congresswoman and a mother at the same time?” And she answered, “Because I have a brain and a uterus and I use both!”
Unfortunately, Pat Schroeder couldn’t join us today but she asked me to read this message:
Remarks from Pat Schroeder, Former Member of the United States Congress from Colorado for Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later
October 15, 2011
Back in 1991, when I was co-chair of the Congresswoman’s caucus, I organized a few of us to make one minute speeches at the opening of the Congressional session about our great, so-called ‘liberal leaders’ on the Senate Judiciary committee. These guys ‘just didn’t get it.’ They were ignoring sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas and they didn’t want Anita Hill to testify.
When we women finished our speeches we realized the Senate Democrats were meeting that day for policy discussions so we decided to march over to the Senate and talk to them in person. March we did! You may remember seeing front page pictures of us striding up the steps of the building. We knocked firmly on the door. Majority Leader Mitchell opened it.
‘Sorry,’ he said ‘We don’t let strangers into our meetings.’
STRANGERS!! We were dumbfounded but we had the presence of mind to point out that a huge press corps was following behind us. Mitchell quickly agreed to meet with us later in his office and there, he agreed to pressure the committee into letting Anita Hill testify.
Chairman Biden grudgingly put her on the witness list but not in prime time. He also rejected the other women who stepped forward as witnesses. It was painful to watch the Democratic Senators on the Judiciary committee — those cowardly lions — quiver and quake. They were pitiful, and no help at all.
Anita Hill knew the real Clarence Thomas. Anita Hill warned the nation about him. Sadly, those who could have done something to prevent his joining the Supreme Court did not listen because in their eyes, women’s claims of sexual harassment had no ‘gravitas.’
How I wish I could be with you today to celebrate this brave, courageous wonderful woman.
Anita Hll, you are, and will always, be my hero!
Former Member of the United States Congress from Colorado