Meet Tarana Burke—The Activist Who Started the "Me Too" Movement 10 Years Ago

Updated 05/02/19
Photo Provided by Tarana Burke to the Washington Post

Following the string of sexual assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, women from all walks of life have banded together under the #MeToo hashtag to reignite the dialogue surrounding sexual assault. Actress Alyssa Milano has been largely credited for sparking the movement on Twitter, but the phrase was first coined by sexual assault activist Tarana Burke back in 2006, reports Motto.

Burke, who is a survivor of sexual violence herself, started the "me too" movement in an effort to help women and girls, particularly women of color, to cope with the sexual violence they'd experienced. "I've been doing this work for a long time, and I use my story as a means of healing others," she told the online publication. "That's the whole point of the movement: that I emphasize and understand what other survivors are going through because I have my own story."

Of course, Burke was stunned when she saw the hashtag take off on Twitter after dedicating her life's work to an organization of the same name; Milano has since credited Burke for pioneering the movement a decade ago. "I was initially inundated with texts and messages from friends who told me, 'Wait, I'm seeing #MeToo everywhere, but I'm not seeing your name attached to it. What's going on?'" she continued. "It was so great that people knew my work, supported my work and wanted to make sure it was properly credited."

Accreditation aside, Burke points out that the "me too" campaign "can't grow unless it's intersectional," she explains. "Sexual violence knows no race, class or gender, but the response to sexual violence absolutely does. Until we change that, any advancement that we make in addressing this issue is going to be scarred by the fact that it wasn't across the board."

Head over to Motto for Tarana Burke's full interview, and read one MyDomaine editor's call to action for sexual assault advocacy next.

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