January 18, 2012 5:45 AM
At a summit on fair housing for women co-sponsored by Tulane organizations, professor and author Anita Hill reminded the audience of the importance of home in the quest for equal opportunity. “The work you do to help people find a home is so important,” Hill said. “It is really key to opportunity now and in the future.”
She spoke on Friday (Jan. 13) at the “Fit for King Celebration,” an annual tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. organized by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. It was held at Tulane Hillel and co-sponsored by the Newcomb College Institute’s Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South.
Hill, the keynote speaker, is professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. She became a national figure in 1991 when she testified about sexual harassment involving a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
The author of Reimagining Equality: Stories of Race, Gender and Finding Home, published last October, Hill said that the location of an individual’s home can impact everything from employment possibilities to access to quality education.
When asked what prompted her to write the book, she replied, “Because I want to continue talking about equality, and I saw no greater indicator of access to equality than where one calls home.”
More than 250 scholars, policymakers and community members at the summit discussed the need for a gender-conscious approach to housing justice. Discussions explored discriminatory housing practices, including sexual harassment from landlords and superintendents, intimate partner violence and the ways these issues impact women, children and marginalized communities.
James Perry, director of the fair housing center, connected the social justice work of King to contemporary issues in fair housing and emphasized the need to “bring the issue of sex discrimination front and center.”
Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.
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