Tarana Burke: Founding the “Me Too” Movement


from Time magazine

Tarana Burke is credited with starting the "Me Too" Movement in 2006.

Sofia Melkun, Writer

Tarana Burke was raised by her mother in the Bronx with a strong understanding of who she was as an African-American child. Although she grew up in America, she was prohibited from reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. Her grandfather did not want her to say it because he believed she could not pledge to a country that had no allegiance to her.

Burke is a civil rights activist who was the original founder of the “Me Too” movement, which she started in 2006. This movement was a way to stand in solidarity with other sexual abuse survivors.

In 1996, Burke originated the phrase “me too” while working at a summer camp. She was approached by a 13 year old girl who had been sexually abused. The girl’s story triggered Burke’s memory of the sexual assault she suffered as a child. Burke is a three-time survivor of sexual assault herself.

She replied by saying, “You’re not alone. This happened to me too.”

Burke realized that this story was common and began her fight to help survivors of sexual assault. From this point forward, “me too” helped Burke shape her life-long campaign for activism to help girls and women who have experienced any kind of sexual violence.

She practiced listening deeply to young African-American girls when they told her about their experiences. A girl told Burke that she was the second person she had told her story to, but the first one to believe her.

In 2017, Burke was among a group of female activist to be named TIME’s Person of the Year. Her work has movements across industries in over 85 countries.

In an interview at the 2019 MAKERS Conference, Burke says, “I have always done youth work, because I believe young people will save us.”