#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke to Speak at MSU

woman standing in yellow sweater with arms crossed

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke will speak at Michigan State University at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall as part of the Transformative Justice Speaker Series. Tickets are free and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis starting Thursday, March 22, at 10 a.m. at the Wharton Center Box Office. Each person is limited to two tickets.

Burke is an activist and community organizer most well-known for creating “Me Too” in 2006 to promote “empowerment through empathy” and healing for survivors of sexual abuse, particularly in underserved communities. 

She will speak about the origins of the #MeToo movement and talk candidly about the pervasiveness of sexual violence in American culture, said Xhercis Méndez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the African American and African Studies Program, who created the Transformative Justice Speaker Series in 2016 to explore how universities can build safer and more supportive environments for marginalized students, faculty, and staff.

Burke’s visit is a call to action meant to inspire and motivate those directly and indirectly impacted by sexual violence as well as all those who seek to transform the conditions, such as racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny, that make it rampant in our communities, Méndez said.

“A long-term commitment to transforming the culture at MSU is much needed and Tarana Burke has been invited to join the greater MSU community to discuss and envision the long-term changes we want to see,” Méndez said.

A long-term commitment to transforming the culture at MSU is much needed and Tarana Burke has been invited to join the greater MSU community to discuss and envision the long-term changes we want to see.

Xhercis Méndez

#MeToo has since developed into a world-wide movement, and Time Magazine named Burke, one of a group of prominent activists dubbed “The Silence Breakers,” as Time’s Person of the Year for 2017.

Burke is Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity, a Brooklyn, New York-based intergenerational nonprofit organization that works to end gender-based violence, where girls and women of color live and learn. She also organizes intersectional workshops to help improve the policies and responses to sexual harm at schools, workplaces, and places of worship.

Transformative justice is an engaged philosophy and practice that seeks to actively respond to harm within communities while recognizing how violence is rooted in other systems of oppression, Méndez said. As a result, the series at MSU has focused on developing an intersectional and transformative justice approach to campus sexual assault that centers on survivors and their needs.

Its goal is to seek out and create accountability toolkits and models for universities that bridge individual responsibility to community responsibility, cultivate a sense of trust and safety, build and strengthen community relations, and center collective healing and transformation, Méndez said.

Event Will Be Live Streamed

The Tarana Burke event will be live streamed at go.cal.msu.edu/metoo.

For accessibility information for the event, contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at (517) 884-7273.

Burke’s visit is sponsored by:

Burke’s visit also was made possible by the generous support of the co-sponsors of the Transformative Justice Speaker Series. Those co-sponsors include the College of Arts & Letters, Department of Philosophy, African American and African Studies, Lyman Briggs College, Decolonial Feminist Collective, American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, Center for Gender in Global Context, Peace and Justice Studies, the Timnick Chair in the Humanities, and the MSU Womxn of Color Initiatives.