More than a hashtag: The origins of the Me Too Movement

Until about a year ago, few people had heard of the Me Too Movement. But it has existed since 2006, before hashtags were even a thing. Tarana Burke founded Me Too with the goal of supporting survivors of sexual violence, particularly women of color from low wealth communities, and putting them at “the forefront for creating solutions to interrupt sexual violence in their communities.” It grew out of an organization she started in 1997 called Just Be Inc., a youth group for young women of color who had been victims of sexual harassment or assault.

This article from Sojourners tells the story of how Burke grew up in an interfaith Muslim-Catholic home and remains inspired by her own Christian faith: “Jesus was the first activist that I knew.” Burke’s movement went viral last year when #metoo caught fire on social media. Few may know or suspect that like many social movements before it, this one, too, emerges from the vision of a faith-rooted leader. Few may also be aware of the systemic change work at its core - empowering survivors to lead change in ending sexual violence. Burke calls it “empowerment through empathy.” When the hashtag becomes an artifact in social media memory, that hard work will continue as it started, quietly and powerfully in the efforts of survivor leaders to eradicate sexual violence.

Listen to Burke explain what the Me Too movement is really about in this video. And read the full article about her faith inspiration at

What is your faith community doing, or could it be doing, to empower survivors and allies to design solutions for interrupting sexual violence?

You can’t do this kind of work without being grounded in a faith that showed possibilities. Christianity is, really, when you take away all the pomp and circumstance, it’s about hope and possibility. ...

I call myself a servant leader so that I don’t ever forget that this is not about me, that this work will never be about me. I’m in service to people, I’m in service to God, and that’s what drives it.
— Tarana Burke

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images