#MeToo campaign founder shares stories with Pittsburgh audience


photo by Taylor Donahue

Zoe Vongtau and Taylor Donahue

The local news outlet PublicSource welcomed Tarana Burke, activist, community organizer and founder of the #MeToo campaign, to speak in front of a crowd of hundreds on Tuesday night.

Although having been an activist for decades, Burke was thrust into the spotlight last October when actress Alyssa Milano shared her campaign #MeToo on Twitter in support of sexual violence survivors.

In her speech, Burke spoke about the origins and motivations of her activism, her feelings about heightened attention to her campaign, and religion.

“I have a choice between conflict and service, and conflict doesn’t serve me,” Burke said.

Since the onset of attention on her campaign and life, Burke said she has been faced with harassment, death threats and more, but always maintains a commitment to her work for the sake of its importance.

The community leader compared the state of sexual harassment advocacy from the ‘80s to the present, and from the Bronx to Pittsburgh, noting patterns that mandate societal and political policy attention.   

Questions prompted by the audience toward the end of the talk fostered a discussion about “radical community healing,” which she believes can only happen with mutually reciprocal discussions.

Burke said she envisions the future of the campaign for sexual violence survivors to welcome attentive allies and center the voices of women and girls of color.