Tarana Burke - speakerbookingagency

Tarana Burke Speaker & Booking Information

Founder of The Me Too Movement

Category: Activists, Women's Speakers, Top Black Keynote Speakers

Speaker’s Fee Range: Please Contact
Travels From: New York, NY

About Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke Biography

Tarana Burke, who started the Me Too Movement, is a proud citizen of the Bronx, the borough of New York City, where she was born on September 12, 1973. She is the mother of Kaia Burke and presently works as a senior director for the nonprofit organization Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, New York. Burke's connection with the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, a Selma, Alabama-based organization committed to assisting young people in becoming community organizers and leaders, stretches back to her teens. Burke took part in her first organizing campaign on behalf of five African American and Latino teen males accused of brutally sexually assaulting a jogger in Central Park in New York City through the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement. The future U.S. President, Donald Trump, launched a campaign to revive the death penalty in New York state in response to those five youths, who would later be acquitted and became known as the "Central Park Five." Burke's campaign against Trump and defense of the "Central Park Five" served as her introduction to effective organizing. Burke attended Alabama State University after high school before earning his degree from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Burke moved to Selma while still in Alabama to work with the 21 Century Youth Leadership Movement. Burke established the nonprofit Just Be, Inc. in 2006, co-founded the Jendayi Aza rites of passage program for girls in 2003, worked as a consultant on the 2014 movie "Selma," served as executive director of the Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center, and co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute's special projects team. Burke, who had given the pseudonym "Heaven" to the girl she met in Alabama, was compelled to address her situation as a victim of sexual assault by the girl's narrative, even if Burke wasn't yet ready to proclaim "me too publicly." Burke's determination to support other survivors overcame her lack of preparation for dealing with her trauma. It became apparent that "me too" was not only "about survivors communicating to survivors, but about leveraging the power of empathy to stomp away shame," as was the case when it was determined that "'me too' could provide messages and words and support to survivors of sexual abuse." Burke utilized Just Be, Inc. to assist in closing some of the gaps in the resources available to young Black and brown girls because she wanted "to speak healing into their lives, to let them know that recovery was possible, and to let them know that they weren't alone." Burke took steps to improve her health so she could be a more effective healer. Her life transformed when she learned to lean into her joy, so she sought out those things that made her happy. Burke had been promoting the "Me Too" Movement for more than ten years when, in 2017, her message received an unexpectedly considerable boost. Numerous well-known and influential men were accused of sexual assault and harassment that year. Burke had meant from the outset for the Twitter hashtag #MeToo to bring attention to the number of survivors of sexual assault and to help other survivors know they weren't alone. The #MeToo movement's appeal for unity was a rousing success, with millions of survivors stepping forward. Burke said that "what started as a basic exchange of empathy amongst survivors has now become a rallying cry, a movement builder, and a clarion call," recognizing the significance of this pivotal moment. In addition, she said that "with two words, those who have been wearing the fear and humiliation that sexual abuse leaves you with, like a scarlet letter, can step out into the sunlight and recognize that we are a global community." Burke has won several well-deserved honors and prizes for her work. The She Knows Media Voices of the Year Catalyst Award and the 2018 Ridenhour Prize for Courage are among them. Burke earned the National Cares Mentoring Movement's North Star Award and the Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award in 2018. Burke was one of the "silence breakers" who together earned the title of Person of the Year from Time Magazine.

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