Former Phila. nonprofit leader lands on Time’s cover

April 21, 2018 GMT

A little more than a decade ago, one-time Philadelphia resident Tarana Burke thought she was just lending a helping hand by inspiring young female victims of sexual trauma to begin sharing their experience with others who had similar experiences.

She wanted them to know that they were not alone.

Little did Burke realize at the time that she was spawning an international movement that would become the viral #MeToo movement, which serves as a rallying cry for millions of survivors of sexual trauma and as means of realizing that they are not alone.

Burke, who once lived in Philadelphia, was named to the 2018 Time 100; the list the magazine runs annually comprised of what it calls “Individuals whose time is now.”


Burke moved to Philadelphia in 2008, a year after changing the name of her nonprofit from Just Be Inc. to Me Too.

A survivor of both rape and molestation, Burke worked at various nonprofits while she was here, including the Art Sanctuary located near 16th and Bainbridge streets. She currently lives in New York City.

Burke got the idea for the #MeToo Movement back in 2006 while working with mostly young minority women from low-income communities who had shared with her tragic and horrifying stories of sexual abuse.

She was looking for a way to inspire and empower other young women who had been through those experiences so they would not suffer in silence.

“When you go through something as traumatic as sexual violence there is a way that you close up. Your protections, the way you protect yourself, it’s like your shrouded in shame,” Burke told Time Magazine earlier this year. “Having somebody else connect with you and say, ‘You’re not alone and that frees you. It frees you from the shame.’

“You don’t have to give the details because the details really don’t matter,” she continued. “When somebody is bold and tells their story and you’re not ready to do that — and that’s not where you are in your journey — to simply say me too is powerful but it’s soft. Me too can be a conversation start up or it can be the whole conversation.”

Ironically, Burke is on the list with President Donald Trump. Trump has been accused by at least 20 women of sexual assault.

Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier, from Philadelphia, also made the list.

Other Blacks on the list include: Chadwick Boseman (actor), Tiffany Haddish (actress/comedienne), Issa Rae (actress), Ryan Coogler (film), Sterling K. Brown (actor), Virgil Abloh (fashion), Kevin Durant (Athlete), Oprah Winfrey (Titan) and Maxine Waters (politics), Lena Waithe (actress/screenwriter), Jesmyn Ward (author), and Kehinde Wiley (Art).