Georgia College Students Circulate Petition to Have Clarence Thomas’ Name Removed From Building

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas arrives for the ceremonial swearing in of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Kavanaugh was confirmed in the Senate 50-48 after a contentious process that included several women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas arrives for the ceremonial swearing in of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Kavanaugh was confirmed in the Senate 50-48 after a contentious process that included several women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

There may never be a full reckoning for prominent men in the public eye accused of sexual assault and rape, such as Kobe Bryant, R. Kelly or Nate Parker. But in a time where those harmed by the deeds of such men are coming forward—in addition to this being an era in which college buildings named for men who were slaveholders and racists are coming down—one college in Georgia has seemingly captured the zeitgeist.

Advertisement

Several students and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga., have put forth a petition to have the name of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas removed from a building on campus.

Advertisement

Thomas, who infamously compared his Supreme Court confirmation hearing to a “high tech lynching” after Anita Hill came forward with her very credible story of sexual harassment when she worked for him, is a native of Savannah; SCAD’s Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation is named for him.

Sage Lucero, a SCAD Alumna, told WSAV she watched the Supreme Court hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, who also was accused of sexual misconduct, and couldn’t help drawing parallels between the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and that of Hill 27 years earlier.

“The fact that she remembered their laughs so clearly, that was the one thing that she remembered, it’s heartbreaking,” said Lucero. “I don’t want young women to have to study in a building with [Thomas’] name on it.”

Teen Vogue reports that Lucero proposed changing the name to the Anita Hill Center for Historic Preservation.

Advertisement

There are currently more than 2,400 signatures on Sage’s petition to “Take A Sexual Predator’s Name Off of SCAD’s Building.” The petition reads in part:

The case between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill in 1991 was extremely similar to what is happening to Dr. Ford today. When it was time for Thomas to become an associate justice of the supreme court, Anita Hill, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, came forward with accusations that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Hill had worked for Thomas years earlier when he was head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Hill charged that Thomas harassed her with inappropriate discussion of sexual acts and pornographic films after she rebuffed his invitations to date him. A media frenzy quickly arose around Hill’s allegations and Thomas’s denials. When Thomas testified about Hill’s claims before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he called the hearings, “a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks.” The incident became one person’s word against another’s. In the end, the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Clarence Thomas as associate justice of the Supreme Court.

The same situation is happening before our eyes today with Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. When will we learn that a victim’s trauma should outweigh politics? For women like Dr. Ford, and Anita Hill to come forward and speak out about what happened to them is extremely traumatic. For someone to not believe a victim who remembers sheer details such as laughter and has gone through therapy because of it is honestly disgraceful.

Please sign this petition to convince Savannah College of Art and Design and Paula S. Wallace to rename Clarence Thomas Center for Historical Preservation after Anita Hill. A woman who stood up for herself despite being denied of true justice. It’s utterly disgraceful to me that I attended a school where a building was named after a sexual predator. And not just any sexual predator, one who wrongfully won against a woman’s word.

Advertisement

“I think women have much more of a voice now than they did in 1991,” Junior Gianna Orecchio notes. “And I think more women want to speak up about things like this. If you don’t speak up there’s going to be no change.”

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

pastafajule
PastaFajule

True story: In both my junior and senior year of high school, our AP history class took a trip to DC and to his credit, CT agreed to a Q&A meeting with our class. Upon learning about the trip, my dad suggested I ask him about his anti-affirmative action views, and if he ever felt that he benefited from AA at any point in his life. When I got my chance, I did just that.

I think he was somehow impressed with the question because he took a particular interest in me after that and even chatted with me after the meeting: but I digress. In answer the question, he used a basketball analogy, assuming that every black boy can relate to basketball (I love BBall, but still) He said he had never benefited from AA, then he proceeded with his BBall analogy. He asked would I feel like I was a good ball player if every time I stepped on the court the other team, had to spot me 10 points for it to be fair game. He said that is what AA does to underrepresented groups, that it would actually never put them on equal footing.

In hindsight, I realize what a bunch of bullshit that was, but 17 & 18 yr old me did not have a follow-up to his response. I also felt his BBall analogy to a majority black class, from a majority black school, to be patronizing. I also realized how he tried to indoctrinate me into his ideology from our meeting. I mentioned that I had interest in becoming a neurosurgeon and he immediately recommends me reading the book Gifted Hands, by fellow soft shoe tap dancer, Ben Carson. He even wrote me a hand-written letter of encouragement in my future endeavors.

As to the subject matter of this blog post, he is a piece of shit for what he did to Dr. Hill. Just as bad for me though, is what he helped do to the voting rights act. I hope he can rest well knowing, that in American history he will be on the opposite side of the ledger of Dr. King.