Know what is the In thing now

A Voice for the Voiceless: The Story of Tarana Burke and the ‘Me Too’ Movement

Tarana Burke, #MeToo, Me Too' Movement, assault, sexual harassment

Tarana Burke was born on September 12, 1973 in The Bronx, New York. From an early age, Burke’s passion for activism and community organizing burned fiercely within her. As a teenager, she joined an organization focused on youth development called 21st century. And so, the journey of this future champion for survivors began.

With a heart full of fire, Burke led campaigns and launched initiatives on issues that mattered to her – housing inequality, racial discrimination, and economic injustice. Her dedication to activism only grew with time, and she decided to attend Alabama State University to further develop her skills.

A Shift in Focus

After graduating, she moved to Selma, Alabama to work for 21st Century, further fueling her desire to make a difference in the world.

It was here that Burke’s story took a pivotal turn, one that would launch her into international recognition. While working with 21st Century, she encountered young women of color who were survivors of sexual violence and abuse. A survivor herself, Burke deeply empathized with these women and decided to focus her efforts on supporting them.

Driven by the need for resources and support for these survivors, Burke started to find ways to provide them with safe spaces to share their stories and empower them. Her goal was to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence and dismantle the shame and stigma surrounding it.

The Birth of the ‘Me Too’ Movement

As the director of a youth camp in 1996, Tarana Burke had a life-changing encounter with a young woman who shared her experience of sexual abuse. A decade later, this encounter would inspire Burke to create the ‘me too’ Movement, which focuses on young women of color and promotes “empowerment through empathy.”

Burke co-founded the African-centered Rites of Passage program Jendayi Aza, which evolved into her non-profit JustBe, Inc. The organization empowered and encouraged young Black girls through programming and workshops, and was adopted by every public school in Selma, Alabama. The ‘me too’ Movement not only facilitated healing but also trained survivors to work in communities of color.

Tarana Burke’s Fight Against Sexual Violence

Tarana Burke has dedicated her life to interrupting systems of oppression, particularly those that disproportionately harm marginalized communities, especially Black women and girls. Fueled by a deep conviction to end sexual violence and other systemic issues, Burke has emerged as a powerful advocate for change.

Through her tireless work, she has exposed the ugly truths of sexism, confronted those in power, and fought for increased access to resources and support for survivors. Her efforts have paved the way for a more expansive and inclusive movement.

Empowerment Through Empathy

Central to Burke’s approach is her theory of “empowerment through empathy.” Through this perspective, she is challenging society’s perceptions of sexual violence, consent, and body autonomy. By fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, Burke is changing the way the world thinks and talks about these issues. She firmly believes that healing is not a destination, but a journey, and her philosophy has inspired millions of survivors to break free from isolation and confront the pain, shame, and trauma of their experiences.

You might also be interested in

Get the word out!