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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”