#MeToo founder Tarana Burke invited to speak at Cabrini

By Sierra Dotson
September 15, 2019

Photo by Michelle Warwick.
Photo by Michelle Warwick.

Tarana Burke, the powerful advocate behind the #MeToo Movement, has been chosen to receive the 2019 Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award. The acceptance ceremony and reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Dixon Center’s Nerney Field House. With the event being completely free to attend, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is not one that anybody should miss.

Originally from The Bronx, New York, Burke has solidified her place in history as one of the most influential modern day activists. Photo by MeToo Movement.

The Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award is an award established in 1992 to honor women who have made outstanding contributions in the area of social justice and public affairs. Tarana J. Burke has made an impact on the lives of survivors around the world by shedding light on the realities of harassment, abuse, sexual assault and rape. 

Dr. Darryl Mace is a professor and chair for Cabrini’s history and political science department. He, in collaboration with two other professors, Dr. Colleen Lelli and Dr. Joseph Fitzgerald, are the minds behind coordinating this year’s ceremony. 

“I think it’s really important for people to know that this is an event that happens every year,” Mace said. “This is a university event that the history and political science department is honored to run. We’ve had tremendous speakers throughout the years and Ms. Burke is another in a long line of fabulous people. I also think it’s really important for people to know that Cabrini University, this small, Catholic liberal arts school, does really big things.” 

“Me Too” coined in 2003

The phrase “Me Too” was originally coined by Burke during her time working for Just Be, Inc., a nonprofit she founded in 2003 that focuses on the health, well-being and wholeness of women of color. She utilized the phrase when trying to comfort survivors by letting them know that they were not alone.

Milano’s viral tweet which popularized Burke’s phrase “me too” in 2017. Screenshot taken from Alyssa Milano’s Twitter page.

The two-word phrase deeply resonated with actress Alyssa Milano as on Oct. 15, 2017 she tweeted ,“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Me Too went viral with women around the globe finally feeling empowered to speak up. Even for those not yet ready to share their story, simply sharing “#metoo” on social media was a way for survivors to release bottled up trauma.

Burke will be arriving on campus Thursday evening and will give a public address. Afterwards there will also be a 20-minute discussion between her and Dr. Fitzgerald.

“A few years ago we changed to a format where the ceremony is actually not a lecture, but instead a dialogue back and forth so we are able to find ways in which the awardee’s life, activism and work connect with the mission of the University,” Mace said. 

With over 400 people currently signed up to attend, it is unclear how much time, if any, will be allowed for questions from the audience. Following the ceremony, there will be a public reception held in the Grace Hall Atrium.

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Sierra Dotson

Cabrini University 2021 // News Editor 2019-2020

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