For more than 25 years, activist and advocate Tarana J. Burke has worked at the intersection of sexual violence and racial justice. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly Black women and girls, Tarana has created and led various campaigns focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities, including the Me Too movement.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Tarana became involved in her community as a teenager rallying for girls who had been abused or were disadvantaged and underserved. Realizing her calling early on, she organized protests and press conferences for numerous causes while attending Alabama State University and, ultimately, graduating from Auburn University with a degree in political science.
Over time, she has worked at, with and founded various nonprofits supporting social justice and equality. Her interests in furthering Black arts and culture eventually led her to be a consultant to Ava DuVernay on SELMA.
Best known for being the originating voice behind #MeToo in 2006, Tarana reframed the 2017 conversation around the increasingly popular hashtag to take the focus off aggressors and perpetrators in order to transmute victims into survivors. Instilling “empowerment through empathy,” life was given to a global platform for sharing stories and supportive listening. Our community is now bigger and the world is much smaller knowing we are all in this together.