‘You cannot take from me what is mine’: Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘Me Too’ movement

Tarana Burke started “Me Too” because the civil rights movement failed to address sexual violence. When #MeToo went viral, she got scared.

Tarana Burke
Photo by Dougal MacArthur / Image created by Meghana Kollu
Tarana Burke
Photo by Dougal MacArthur / Image created by Meghana Kollu

‘You cannot take from me what is mine’: Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘Me Too’ movement

Tarana Burke started “Me Too” because the civil rights movement failed to address sexual violence. When #MeToo went viral, she got scared.

Tarana Burke created the “Me Too” movement 15 years before #MeToo went viral in the wake of the 2017 Harvey Weinstein scandal.

On Art of Power, she tells host Aarti Shahani how she did it. Burke, author of the new memoir Unbound, said she had to fight with herself before she could even say the words “me too” out loud. She had to build a grassroots movement in the shadows, in defiance of movement leaders who wanted her to fight against racism, not gender violence and sexism. And she had to reclaim her movement after it appeared to be hijacked by the white Hollywood establishment.

Overwhelmed by the visibility and attention of #MeToo, Burke said, “I really shrunk.” It took time to realize her only limits were the ones she put on herself. Though, she jokes, “that would have sounded like Kumbaya nonsense to me before.”