Tarana J. Burke asserts that ‘me too.’ is more than just a moment in time. As the founder of this vital and growing movement, and as someone who has been organizing within issues facing Black women and girls for more than three decades, Tarana has a commitment and vision that is bigger than any hashtag or viral moment.
Tarana is fueled by a commitment to the interruption of sexual violence and other systemic issues disproportionately impacting marginalized people — particularly Black women and girls.
Tarana has created and led campaigns which have shone a spotlight on the harm perpetrated against communities of color. Specifically, Tarana’s work to end sexual violence has exposed the ugly truths of sexism, has spoken truth to power, has increased access to resources and support for survivors, and has paved the way forward for an expanding and inclusive movement.
A proud native of the Bronx, NY, Tarana’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s. As a young girl, she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century. She launched initiatives around issues including racial discrimination, housing inequality and economic justice. That work, coupled with a desire to deepen her academic education and community organizing skills, eventually led her to Alabama State University, a historically black institution.
Tarana’s organizing and advocacy work continued throughout college. Upon moving to Selma, Alabama, her career took an intentional turn toward supporting survivors of sexual violence. She encountered a Black girl who shared her story of sexual violence and abuse. Soon she found herself meeting dozens more. As a survivor herself, these were the stories with which she identified personally. Tarana faced the realization that too many girls were suffering and surviving abuse without access to resources, safe spaces and support.
Tarana’s theory of “empowerment through empathy” is changing the way the world thinks and talks about sexual violence, consent and body autonomy. Tarana has used her platform to share her long standing belief that healing is not a destination, but a journey. This philosophy has inspired millions of survivors who previously had to live in isolation to deal with the pain, shame and trauma of their experience.
Tarana’s steadfast commitment to the cause has led to numerous accolades including 2017 TIME Person of the Year, and the 2019 Sydney Peace Prize, among many other honors.