Civil rights activist Tarana Burke will address the Cornell community on February 4 at Bailey Hall.

Courtesy of Cornell University

Civil rights activist Tarana Burke will address the Cornell community on February 4 at Bailey Hall.

January 23, 2018

Founder of #MeToo Movement Tarana Burke to Speak at Cornell

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Tarana Burke, civil rights activist and founder of the #MeToo Movement, will address the Cornell community at Bailey Hall on Sunday, February 4.

Burke coined the phrase “Me Too” after a conversation in 1997 with a sexually abused 13-year-old girl inspired her to help women vocalize their experiences and to raise awareness about sexual assault.

While Burke is credited with coining the term, actress Alyssa Milano pioneered the viral hashtag in October of last year amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

At the talk, the audience can expect to hear Burke recount the story behind the movement and provide “strength and healing to those who have experienced sexual trauma or harassment,” according to an email sent to students.

“We especially hope that survivors in our community are able to walk away from this talk with a renewed sense of empowerment and solidarity, and know that they are not alone,” Daniela Manzano ’19, Cornell University Programming Board executive chairperson, said.

Burke’s movement’s meteoric rise across the world attracted the attention of the event’s planners, “especially after her movement spread to an ever wider audience after being spotlighted at the Golden Globes,” according to Manzano.

“At such an esteemed university, it is our responsibility to use our platform to take part in the dialogue about sexual assault,” Manzano said.

Since founding her nonprofit organization Just Be Inc. in 2006, Burke has aided sexual assault victims — especially women of color—  through workshops that promote policy changes in schools, workplaces and religious settings. She currently serves as Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity.

Burke’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. on February 4. Free tickets will be available to undergraduate and graduate students starting on January 24 and to the General Public from January 25 at the Willard Straight Hall Resource Center.