October 20, 1991 – Dawning Of The Age Of Clarence
October 20, 1991 culminated a week of contentious questioning and cross-examination over President Bush’s nomination of Clarence Thomas to the bench of the Supreme Court. Riding in on a cloud of accusations over sexual harassment and impropriety in the workplace, Thomas’ confirmation was set to a vote, and vice-President Dan Quayle read the results – Clarence Thomas was confirmed.
But all this didn’t set well with the Women of America; the ones who knew only too well the commonplace practice in the Business and professional world of harassment, innuendo and discrimination. That Clarence Thomas was Black didn’t erase the fact that he was alleged to have displayed characteristics unbecoming a future member of the highest court in the nation. But that Anita Hill, Thomas’ accuser and herself Black and a professional, was subject to hours of non-stop grilling and questioning of her own character, filled many with the frustration that it was business-as-usual and that even Senate Judiciary Hearing Room wasn’t immune.
So after the Festival of Lurid details was over, the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Thomas, and a new era had begun.
Meanwhile, Police and ambulances headed for a cafeteria in Texas this week, where Police reported George Hennard rammed his pickup truck through the front window of the restaurant, got out and started shooting while yelling “this is payback”. The gunman was armed with 2 9mm semi-automatic pistols which he emptied and reloaded. Police finally opened fire, but by then the gunman had already killed himself, but not before he killed 22 people and wounded more than 20 others.
And it was also the week Singer and well-known TV and Radio personality of the 1950s and early 60s “Tennessee Ernie” Ford died. Ford was also a Country-Western and Gospel Music legend, with over 80 albums to his credit – he was best known for his 1950s hit “Sixteen Tons” which sold some 20 million copies worldwide and in 1990 was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
And that’s a little of what was going the week of October 20, 1991 as reported by ABC Radio’s World News This Week.