Making Black History: My Inspiration, Tarana Burke

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As a millennial, beginning my career at a public relations and crisis communications firm, I asked myself during the start of Black History Month, who is an influencer of my generation that is promoting my generations’ interest?

The woman I have been inspired by is no other than Tarana Burke. Ms. Burke is a civil rights activist hailing from the Bronx, New York. In 2006, she began using the phrase ‘Me Too’ on social media to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society.

Unfortunately, in 2017 Burke received no recognition for starting #metoo as it was used by women across the country to tweet about allegations against the famous Harvey Weinstein.

Growing up, Burke experienced sexual abuse and her mother supported her throughout her recovery process. In 2003, she would develop the nonprofit “Just Be,” which was an all-girls program whose focus was for young Black girls ages 12 – 18 years old. In 2008, Burke would relocate from Selma, Alabama to Philadelphia where she worked with many not-for-profit organizations in the City. Back then, Burke and other female activists were called “the Silence Breakers” and were named Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2017.

#MeToo is not only a movement for women but every survivor of sexual abuse. #MeToo is a movement that speaks out on perpetrators. It’s a movement that aims to take power out of the hands of perpetrators and places it back into the hands of the survivors. Tarana Burke is an inspiration for starting this movement at a time where not only was social media not popular but speaking out against sexual misconduct was also not popular. She is a woman that never gave up or gave in to peer pressure. She continues to push through, even to this day, as she teaches empowerment workshops at schools and workplaces across the country. Despite #metoo becoming popular due to actress Alyssa Milano wanting people to share their survival stories, Burke remained cool and reminded everyone of the original meaning of #metoo.

Black History Month is a celebration of our culture’s uniqueness and, most importantly, our strength. As a millennial, it is my duty to ensure that I make my mark on this world through positive advocacy and effective communication for the next generation of leaders.

Angela Tilghman is a communications associate at TML Communications, a public-relations and crisis-communications firm.

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