Tarana Burke; Pioneer of Feminism


Image via Women’s Center

Kaeden Wise

As an activist, community organizer, and executive, Tarana Burke made a huge impact on today’s society as we know it. She is known for the creation of the #MeToo movement; the hashtag has been used more than 19 million times on Twitter alone. Since that, Burke has been highly recognized for her work in the activist, and feminist community, and she was voted Person of the Year by TIME magazine in 2017. 

Tarana Burke was born on September 12th, 1973 in the Bronx, New York. Burke had a very rough childhood, she grew up in a low-income, working-class family in a housing project, and was raped and sexually abused both as a child and as a teenager. Since she was a child, Burke had developed a strong interest in and passion for activism and community organizing. In the late 1980s, she joined an organization that focused on developing the youth called the 21st Century. While she was a teenager, Burke led campaigns and launched projects around issues like housing inequality, racial discrimination, and economic injustice. Driven by her passion for activism, she decided to go to college at Alabama State University, a Historically Black University (HBCU), to better develop her organizing skills. Burke’s advocacy and her natural talent for being a leader continued with her throughout her college career. After she graduated, Burke moved to Selma, Alabama to work for the 21st Century. While she worked there, Burke met many women of color that had also been survivors of sexual violence and abuse. Also being a survivor, Burke identified with these young women and her efforts moved towards supporting and helping them. She realized these women are living and suffering with no safe spaces. She then found many ways for these young women to provide resources, support, and safe spaces for young women of color to tell their stories and receive nothing but support. Burke has also worked with the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, and the Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center, as well as the 21st Century.


Burke originally coined the phrase “me too” while working at Just Be Inc. Just Be Inc is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 that focused on the overall well-being of young women of color. Burke was left alone to find the right words to help empathize with tons of young women and girls who had told their stories to her. Burke had to find the right move to help these young women who had been through so much.