Tarana Burke: Giving life to the #MeToo movement
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Upswell will shine a bright and critical light on systems of oppression, racial inequity, and structural violence, and celebrate the work of those in the struggle to end them, like Tarana Burke — civil rights leader, social justice revolutionary, founder of the #MeToo movement — and a featured speaker on the main stage at Upswell LA.
In 1997, before “hashtag” was cool, a young girl shared her horrifying story of sexual abuse with Tarana, then a youth camp director in Selma, Alabama. She didn’t say it at the time, but Tarana, also a victim of sexual violence, thought to herself, “me too.” In 2003, Tarana co-founded an African-centered rites of passage program for young brown girls that eventually evolved into Just Be, Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting “the health, well-being, and wholeness of brown girls everywhere.” She also created a “Me Too” MySpace page where young sexual assault victims could share their stories in an online environment of safety, understanding, and solidarity – giving rise to the global social justice phenomenon – #MeToo.
Today Tarana is Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity, an intergenerational organization committed to enabling girls and women to live self-determined lives. She also is writing her memoir, Where the Light Enters: The Founding of the ‘Me Too’ Movement, set for release in 2019.
Named Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year, Tarana Burke’s foresight into the need for a safe space for survivors of sexual abuse and harassment birthed a worldwide movement, empowering those who once dared not even whisper “Me Too” to shout loudly and fearlessly for all to hear – “Times Up.”
Don’t miss Tarana Burke on the main stage at Upswell LA.
Check out what others are saying and writing about Tarana Burke, her work as founder of the “Me Too” movement, and her fierce advocacy for sexual assault survivors.
- “Watch Carefully Who Are Called ‘Leaders’ of the Movement” | Tarana Burke casts a wary eye on the media’s framing of the leaders of the “Me Too” movement, and concern about losing focus on those it was originally intended to help. Read more.
- ‘You have to use your privilege to serve other people’ | Privilege comes with responsibility, says Tarana Burke, and those who have it must speak for those who feel they cannot, particularly black and brown girls. Read more.
- Michelle Williams Walks Golden Globes Carpet With #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke | Actress Michelle Williams made it clear when she walked the 2018 Golden Globes Red Carpet with Tarana Burke — she wasn’t there because she’d been nominated. “We’re here because of Tarana.” Read more.
- The Woman Who Created #MeToo Long Before Hashtags | Others were slow to credit Tarana Burke as the original founder of the “Me, Too” movement, and while recognition is nice — though late coming — her focus remains on sexual violence survivors. Read more.
Follow Tarana on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Me Too Movement on Twitter and Facebook.
Debra Rainey is manager of communications at Independent Sector.