For more than 25 years, Tarana J. Burke has worked at the intersection of racial justice, arts and culture and sexual violence. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly black women and girls, Burke has created and led various campaigns focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities, including the “Me Too” Movement.
Burke began her professional life in Selma, where, over the span of a decade, she assisted the organization 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement; served as a curator and consultant at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute; and played a role in the annual commemoration of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle and of the events leading up to the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. In 2003 she co-founded Just Be Inc., an organization committed to the leadership development and wellness of black girls. Burke realized how many were suffering through abuse without access to resources, safe spaces and support; the “Me Too” Movement was born out of the need to fill that void. The movement quickly expanded beyond young people to include adult women and men, queer and trans folks and all marginalized groups. In October 2017 #metoo became a viral phenomenon that quickly spread around the world.
Tarana was named Time’s 2017 Person of the Year along with the “Silence Breakers,” a group recognized for standing up against sexual harassment and violence. In 2018, she was featured on the covers of Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and Variety’s Power of Women issue. She has received the Ridenhour Prize and The Change Makers Award from Black Girls Rock, and topped the The Root 100 list as the most influential African American in 2018.
(Note: This biography was up-to-date as of the date of the lecture. Biographies are not updated over time.)