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"Me Too" Founder Speaks at SUNY Broome

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The founder of “Me Too”, the international movement against sexual harassment and assault, spoke to students and members of the community at SUNY Broome Tuesday night.

Tarana Burke founded Me Too in 2006 to help sexual assault survivors find pathways to healing. The movement went viral last fall with the hashtag #MeToo.

“It’s been kind of fascinating to watch it grow and to watch the reach.”

The hashtag was shared over 12 million times in the first 24 hours according to the Associated Press, with people coming forward with their own personal stories.

“I think it’s because we’ve been able to lift the veil of shame that most people have around being a survivor of sexual violence.”

Burke’s visit to SUNY Broome is just one of many that she has planned at college campuses across the country.

“My hope is one of these days on one of these college campuses some brilliant 22-year-old will be the person to move this forward another decade.”

Although the movement has been around longer than just last year, it’s not slowing down any time soon.

The ripple effect of people coming forward continues, with the latest allegations against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman, an outspoken advocate for the Me Too movement.

Burke said she was heartbroken when she heard the news of four women coming forward with physical abuse allegations against Schneiderman.

“We have to be careful who we put on pedestals, right? His personal behavior, which is deplorable and should be dealt with, and he should be held accountable for that, does not have any bearing on the fact that other people had deplorable behavior that needs to be, we need to find justice for.”

Burke said low-profile people need to be held accountable too, the ones who don’t make the headlines.

“There are regular people in the community, whether it’s the guy who owns the grocery store, the coach, or just the insurance man, whoever it’s so many just regular people who are committing these same crimes and violations.”

The Bronx native hopes her movement continues to grow and inspire a culture shift, holding those guilty accountable for their actions, and supporting survivors who need healing.

“The real phenomenon of this moment is that survivors are being believed, and so people can come forward and know that there is just a global community of people ready to support them, and to hear them, and to see them and to finally get their story out. We can’t define what justice looks like for everybody, but certainly, the catharsis of letting your story out is the first step in starting a healing process.”

For more information on Me Too, click here.