Last week our Crowned Queen was Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She proved herself to be a fierce woman who fought for women’s rights during a time when women didn’t seem to really have any rights at all. Today we crown an incredibly strong, brave, and empowering Queen. This lady’s light shines so bright for others, especially those going through or that have been through some of the darkest of times.
Without further ado, our Queen of the week is Tarana Burke! Her passion for community organizing was sparked when she was a young girl in the 1980’s when she joined 21st Century; a youth development organization. Tarana launched various initiatives around serious issues that include matters such as racial discrimination, economic justice, and housing inequality.
Tarana has been a huge part of moving the movement ever since. She had a desire and drive to delve deeper into her academic education, as well as her community organizing skills. She chose to attend Alabama State University which is a historically black institution. Tarana’s advocacy and organizing work didn’t stop; she continued right on with that work the whole time she attended college.
It was in Selma, Alabama that Tarana decided to go in a different direction regarding career. The direction she was heading now was now toward supporting survivors of sexual violence. Tarana Burke is a survivor of sexual assault and had such empathy when she met another black Queen who shared her personal story. After encountering this first woman dozens more were met.
This Queen took it upon herself to help others. She realized that far too many girls were suffering through and surviving sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. She identified with that on such a personal level and it added fuel to an already glowing flame! The sad reality was that so many of those dealing with the abuse and assault didn’t have access to resources, safe spaces, and/or genuine support. This is where the #MeToo movement began!
Tarana used the platform she had to share her beliefs turned philosophy that healing isn’t a destination rather, a journey with others. This inspired millions of other survivors that had been living in a hell-like solitary confinement dealing with their pain, trauma, and shame of their experiences. Tarana Burke helped them to know that they are not alone and since that day the #MeToo movement has been moving.
In 2017, The Silence Breakers were awarded “Time’s – Person of The Year”. The Silence Breakers are actually a group of people coming forward, not simply one person but Tarana is one of them. Tarana Burke knows that although she is the founder of the “Me Too” movement, there are many voices making it move. Her empathy and the desire to make a change paved the foundation for many sexually assaulted women and even men so they do not have to deal with all of that heavy weight alone. She organized an incredible community of beautiful people rising out of terribly ugly situations.
Then, in 2019, with over 200 other nominations, the “Me Too” movement received the Sydney Peace Prize. It was Tarana Burke and Tracey Spicer that accepted the Peace together. Tracey is an author, a journalist, and the broadcaster that was the driving force of the “Me Too” movement in Australia. She is an advocate for safe workplaces and made award-winning investigations revolving around sexual harassment in media-related workplaces.
Tarana was nominated for the Shorty Award for Best in Activism, as well as the Shorty Social Good Award for Best in Gender Equality! In February of 2020 Tarana received the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center For Public Leadership Gleitsman Award.
It’s amazing how the movement began in 2006 and in 2017 Tarana watched the “MeToo” hashtag became a wave a emotional support from and to victims of sexual assault and abuse. People shared their painfully personal stories releasing some of that pent up emotion and at the same time, letting others know that they are not alone and together they can make their healing journey.
There was a time when sexual assault was something that didn’t get talked about and if/when it did it was behind closed doors. Embarrassment and shame are just two of the very many emotions a survivor goes through. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious thing many survivors deal with. A piece of someone’s life is taken when they are assaulted in this way. There is no replacing the hole it leaves but there is definitely healing that can be done.
Tarana Burke is a Queen and she should be honored and remembered for her bravery and empathy. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to care, one person to stand up or be there for another, one person can make a difference and if that positivity is extended from person to person each day then I’d say it’s much of a larger difference than it seems.
Tarana Burke: Queen, You’ve Been Crowned!