Me Too Movement

By Lynda Millner   |   December 6, 2018
Arts & Lectures speaker Tarana Burke with UCSB student Jalia Carlton-Carew

Arts & Lectures from UCSB recently presented a long-time worker for the “Me Too” movement, Tarana Burke. She is from the Bronx, New York and the movement isn’t new to her. She’s been working in the social justice field for 25 years, particularly with girls who are brown and black and have suffered sexual abuse and assault. As Time 100 said, “the stage will be bigger and the microphone turned all the way up” because of all the publicity this last year. And so Tarana now travels all over the United States doing her work.

Tarana attended a reception with primarily UCSB students before her talk at Campbell Hall. She generously offered her time there for a Q & A and there was no shortage of questions. She grew up in a modest family but in a home filled with books. A couple of her favorites were Beloved and Their Eyes Were Watching God. She admitted that she had also read all of Shakespeare. When asked how she recharges, she told how close she is to her daughter and they get together and also her faith is very important.

Tarana said she loved being black and advised the students to find their “thing.” Tarana was working with a non-profit at age 13. She usually worked behind the scenes and believes that power is not the story of abuse but how you survived. She rarely tells her own story and prefers to dwell on how she got through the ordeal. A mentor once told her at age 14, “You have power now. You don’t have to wait. You are worthy just because you exist.”

Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta Billeci with Hollye Jacobs at the Burke lecture

Tarana learned from Maya Angelou that the body can hold both pain and joy at the same time. Tarana says the number of people with a story is staggering. Probably more than half of the student body. She created the “Me Too” campaign at her youth organization, Just Be, in 2006 to help survivors. Actress Alyssa Milano amplified the phrase in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal. Time magazine named Tarana a 2017 Person of the Year and she received the 2018 Ridenhour Prize for Courage.

Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta M. Billeci reminded us that Arts & Lectures is 60 years old. She thanked the crowd for sustaining our vibrant cultural life and 2018 and 2019 will be no exception.


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