Long before the courageous rally cry #MeToo went viral last year, Tarana Burke had adopted the simple yet powerful phrase “Me Too” to let survivors of sexual assault know they weren’t alone.
Burke – a social justice activist for more than 25 years and senior director of programs at Girls for Gender Equity – will speak at Roger Williams University (RWU) on February 13 as part of RWU’s year-long series, “Talking About Race, Gender and Power” and the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series.
“My goal for the talk is to make sure students and faculty walk away with a deep understanding of what the movement is and how they can participate in it,” Burke said. “I want them to take away that everyone has a role – including them – in interrupting sexual violence.”
Burke started the “Me Too” movement in 2006 to support survivors of sexual violence. But the movement went viral in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano used the #MeToo hashtag following the accusations of sexual harassment and assault made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“You never know how timing is going to work,” Burke said. “I am just grateful to have the opportunity to elevate the conversation.”
Laura D’Amore, Associate Professor of American Studies and RWU’s Program Coordinator for Gender and Sexuality Studies, said, “The Me Too movement is so intertwined with conversations about race, gender and power because it is a movement that gives voice to people who have historically held so little power in our society. The movement is about listening, healing and transforming, and while many of us have heard the rallying cry, Tarana Burke’s talk will show us how to activate and respond.”
Free and open to the public, the event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Recreation Center Gymnasium on the Bristol campus, 1 Old Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island. For more info, please call (401) 254-3166.
This event is sponsored by the RWU Intercultural Center, Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, Political Science, School of Humanities, Arts, and Education Dean’s Office, School of Social and Natural Sciences Dean’s Office, Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, English and Creative Writing, School of Justice Studies, Psychology, Communication and Media Studies, Public Health, Gabelli School of Business, and the President’s Office.