SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Tarana Burke is credited for starting the Me Too movement a decade ago. On Monday night, Burke shared the history behind the viral hashtag to students at San Jose State University.
To a captivated crowd of 200 students and staff at San Jose State, Burke shared her desire to help those who survived sexual abuse. It’s a topic she knows firsthand after she was sexually assaulted as a child and teenager.
“I was raised in a household where the golden rule was our business is our business,” said Burke. “It didn't occur to me that I would tell something so deeply personal.”
She recounts it wasn't until she met a 12-year-old girl that the Me Too movement began.
“In my heart I was thinking this happened to me too” said Burke. “That hurt in my eyes was very similar to what I had been carrying.”
Burke is a civil rights advocate who was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She began using the Me Too phrase to raise awareness about sexual violence in 2006. It wasn't until much later, it developed into a viral hashtag taking off following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.
“Watching a powerful person answer to their behavior that's pretty new,” said Burke.
Time named Burke, among other prominent female activists its Person of the Year for 2017. Last month, Burke was featured in a documentary highlighting sexual abuse allegations against singer R. Kelly. She said more work needs to be done to change misconceptions.
“There’s still a pervasive idea that Me Too is a witch hunt that we want to do away with due process,” said Burke.
Her words resonated with an audience familiar with sexual assault allegations against Stanford swimmer Brock Turner and Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Students, who saw Burke as inspiration for sparking conversation.
“I think it's important for young men to be aware of and conscious of,” said San Jose State Junior Aaron Grulich.
“I think it's a paradigm shift for our society,” said San Jose State Graduate Student Ashari Taylor-Watson. “It’s nice to see women have a voice and that voice taken seriously.”
Burke said the focus should not be on the perpetrators but on providing more resources for survivors.
“Survivors have been forgotten but we cannot let them be forgotten in this moment,” said Burke.
Burke ended her speech with a standing ovation from the crowd. She has just launched a new public service campaign reminding survivors they're not alone and to keep the Me Too fight going.