Victim. Survivor. Thriver.
This is the transition made by activist and “Me Too” founder Tarana Burke, whose commitment to sharing the stories of individuals affected by sexual assault and misconduct has upended industries and started a worldwide conversation regarding voice and representation.
Burke will speak at Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium on Tuesday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m., detailing the power of empathy and the keys to a survivor’s healing. Admission is free for students, and tickets can be purchased at the University Box Office on the corner of West Third and Chestnut Streets in Sierra Hall, or online at www.chicoperformances.com.
Exploring the root causes of rampant sexual violence in our culture, Burke will also discuss proven ways in which each individual can disrupt the pattern of abuse. Designed as a call to action against these injustices, the lecture is meant to inspire and motivate all who are affected by sexual violence—which, in her opinion, is everyone.
“I look forward to Tarana Burke’s upcoming visit to our campus, as she will challenge us to do better in support for women’s rights, and we will be inspired and provided necessary tools and resources to do so,” said Tray Robinson, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “I am confident that when we leave her presentation, we will walk away with a higher level of energy and enthusiasm to engage in activism for human rights.”
Originally coining the phrase “me too” in the mid-2000s while working at her nonprofit “Just Be,” Burke’s commitment to social justice and equality dates back to her college years at Auburn University—where peers and colleagues alike remember her as a frequent organizer of press conferences for economic and racial justice. She leveraged these skills after graduation to work specifically with women and girls who had experienced extreme hardships, with an emphasis in improving the lives of those living in marginalized communities.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017, actress Alyssa Milano appealed to her Twitter followers to use the hashtag “#MeToo” if they had experienced sexual harassment or assault—thrusting Burke into the spotlight of a new movement. She took up the call to action and championed the “empowermental empathy” that sharing these stories, like her own, brought to the attention of both the mainstream media and affected individuals.
Burke has earned a multitude of awards and recognitions throughout her career, including being recognized as Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017 with other female activists, and being honored with the 2018 Prize for Courage from The Ridenhour Prizes. Currently, she is the senior director at Girls for Gender Equity and travels the country organizing workshops to improve school policy regarding sexual assault and misconduct.
“The ‘Me Too’ movement grew out of the work that civil rights activist Tarana Burke started in 2006 and has since become the most important worldwide social justice movement of our age,” said director of University Public Events Stephen Cummins. “We are excited to be working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to bring this trailblazing disrupter and activist to Chico State.”
Those who require an accommodation in order to attend Tarana Burke at Laxson Auditorium, or who have questions about accessibility, may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.