Florence George Graves, an award-winning journalist and founding director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, spoke to Iowa State about social justice and the importance of conversation surrounding sexual assault.
Graves worked as an investigative journalist for the Washington Post on the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and broke the story of sexual harassment and abuse of power by U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood. Her reporting helped expose the imbalance of power between women and men in Washington long before the #Metoo era.
George Graves is best known for her work following the Anita Hill testimony at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing. Two years after the confirmation of Justice Thomas, George Graves saw a lack of follow-up articles on the treatment of women on capitol hill.
“After the Anita Hill trial, Justice Thomas was confirmed. Other people thought, ‘he’s in office now so we’ll move on to another story,’ well, not me,” George Graves said.
George Graves went on to tell the audience of her investigative process.
“It was like a mystery and I wanted to solve it. It took me over a year, I interviewed over 100 people, and I had to fight for every single thing in that story,” George Graves said.
A large part of George Graves’ lecture spoke of the advancements of women in the last century, and the work yet to be done.
“It’s been 99 years since women got the right to vote. That’s really not that long ago. Just as the right to vote was a fight, so is the willingness of people to listen to women who come forward,” George Graves said.
The event was co-sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and the Committee on Lectures and was also featured as part of the celebration of first amendment days.
Graves received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and her master’s from the University of Arizona. She was inducted in the School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 2018 at her alma mater, and has been a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center since 1996.