AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - “Me Too” has become a major social movement to help survivors of sexual violence.
It was founded some 13 years ago, specifically focusing on African American victims and other young women of color.
Tarana Burke spoke at Auburn’s Extraordinary Women Lecture after being named one of the most influential people of 2018.
Burke is also a civil rights activist who works to change the culture in hopes of bringing an end to sexual violence.
“What I know to be true today and say it often, trauma halts possibility, but movement activates it,” said Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement.
Burke is dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual violence after being a victim herself.
She also works to help eliminate what she calls “toxic work environments” through dialogue. Thursday’s goal was to continue to open up conversations she’s been having since she started Me Too in 2006.
“I’m still incredulous that the world was finally able to talk about sexual violence. There have been tons of people prior to me and tons of people after me who do the work of trying to end sexual violence and make awareness of how pervasive it is. I just think the conditions were right for people to hear it," said Burke.
Auburn students said they think the work Burke is doing and the message she’s spreading is not just making a difference but also inspiring this generation.
“I just feel like it’s super important work, work that a lot of people aren’t willing to do,” said Auburn student, Tessa Battles.
“It needs to be talked about more. We need to spread awareness for and show people that we all have our struggles and we’ve all been through things,” said Kayla Reed, another Auburn student.
“I’m a volunteer with rape counselors of East Alabama, so this kind of thing is near and dear to my heart. And I’m a social work major and I would love to do something to promote and have further conversations about these topics,” said Auburn student, Kara Smith.
Even though women are most often the victims of sexual violence, Burke reminded the audience that men are victims too.
“It’s brushed off more as like it can’t happen to them as much when it’s very possible to happen to both. But if both genders and everybody as a whole don’t get together to help, you can’t fix a problem,” said Auburn student, Landon Brewer.
“I hope that my presence is an influence towards the changes that I know still need to happen and I hope people also know literally, anybody can make change. It doesn’t have to be an international movement, it doesn’t have to be televised, or viral,” said Burke.
This lecture series has brought renowned speakers like Maya Angelou and Lilly Ledbetter.
Burke wants to continue to make a difference and let people know its OK to speak out.