Search form

Scroll To Top
News & Opinion

The Original 'Me Too' Movement Was Created 10 Years Ago

Photo: Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke launched the grassroots campaign "to let folks know that they were not alone." 

The #MeToo campaign spreading across social media has been a great help in raising awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual assault across all communities, while forming bonds of solidarity between survivors far and wide.

Related | #MeToo: Javier Munoz, Alyssa Milano & Thousands More Share Stories of Sexual Harassment

#MeToo got a major kick-off after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a call to action on Sunday. Since then, #MeToo posts have been shared by millions of sexual harrassment and assault survivors across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It's important to point out that another "Me Too" movement was started a decade ago by an activist, named Tarana Burke, as a means of reaching out to and connecting with assault survivors in low-income communities.

"It wasn't built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow," Burke told Ebony. "It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible."

The origin of "Me Too" is a heartbreaking story, outlined on Burke's site: While working as a counselor at a youth camp, a young girl approached her and asked to talk privately, then began to share stories of her stepfather raping her. Burke was horrified, but had to cut the girl off mid-story to direct her toward another counselor who could help her better.

"I couldn't help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured," she wrote. "I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn't even bring myself to whisper... me too."

Burke founded Just Be Inc., an organization dedicated to "the health, well being and wholeness of young women of color. In the face of media, music and pop culture that increasingly diminish the importance, worth, and esteem of girls and women, particularly women of color, our organization deals specifically with the range of issues teen and pre-teen girls are faced with daily."

On Sunday, she tweeted her support of the resurgence of #MeToo:

Milano was quick to acknowledge Burke's creation of "Me Too," tweeting:

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Hilton Dresden