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Tarana Burke, founder of the 'Me Too' campaign. (YouTube / Democracy Now!)

'Through empathy'

Meet the woman who started the ‘Me Too’ campaign 10 years ago

By WITW Staff on October 19, 2017

As the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter has achieved viral status in the days since the Harvey Weinstein floodgates opened, many credited actress Alyssa Milano with coining the phrase that legions of women have now invoked to share their stories and experiences with sexual assault. However, Milano was resurrecting a campaign that had been launched a decade ago by Tarana Burke. In fact, this week, Milano posted on Twitter to give Burke a shout-out for the original movement.

Burke, 44, launched the movement in 2007, she told Ebony magazine in an interview. “It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” Burke told Ebony in a recent interview. “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.” She said the movement was initially launched as a means to raise awareness and provide support for women of color, whom she said are widely underserved by sexual assault support systems. During an appearance on Democracy Now!, Burke said she’s been working with young people for more than 25 years and that she, too, is a survivor of sexual violence.

“As a person who was struggling to figure out what healing looked like to me, I also saw young people, particularly young women of color, and the community I worked with struggling the same issues,” Burke said. “And trying to find a succinct way to show empathy — we use a term called empowerment through empathy — and ‘me too’ was so powerful because somebody had said it to me … and it changed the trajectory of my healing process once I heard that.” Watch the complete interview with Burke, who’s a fascinating and inspiring woman, below. She appears at about the 3:25 mark.

Read the full story at CBS News.


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