Founder of #MeToo encourages CU Boulder students to make movement their own

Founder of #MeToo encourages CU Boulder students to make movement their own

Tarana Burke, right, speaks as Cultural Events board members Hayden Johnson, left, and Isabelle Ceranski, center, listen Monday at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Macky Auditorium Concert Hall. (Photos by Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, speaks Monday at Macky Auditorium Concert Hall.

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, speaks Monday at Macky Auditorium Concert Hall.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, told the crowd at Macky Auditorium Concert Hall on Monday night that it’s up to the next generation to ensure the movement retains its true spirit and continues to effect real change.

“I don’t want to be the face of the #MeToo movement in five years,” she said. “I’m just here to prime the soil. I’m here to till it and get it nice and soft so you all can get in here and really grow this.”

In her mind, the #MeToo movement did just that, garnering the attention of the world and starting a conversation. Now, she said, it’s time for action.

In particular, she said college campuses are the perfect place to test new systems of accountability for which so many are pleading.

“The opportunity you have while you’re on this campus is that you all have the space to imagine new paradigms,” she said. “We can’t go out tomorrow and change the justice system, but you can do that on your campus. You can try out new systems of accountability. You can try and fail and try something different.”

She suggested starting small. Perhaps testing out a new system within a student organization. If that works, maybe lobbying the school or even the student government to institute a similar system. If that works take it to the next level and talk to the city council or state legislatures.

After all, when she started the #MeToo movement in 2006 while working for a small nonprofit she founded, no one was paying attention and few even seemed to care. Then after more than decade of work, one tweet from Alyssa Milano changed everything.

While she said she has no silver bullet for what new systems might look like, she said the most important thing is to remain active and continue call for accountability, no matter how it looks.

The example that continued to come up was that of former Vice President Joe Biden. Though she said that she supports him and would even consider voting for him should he run for president in 2020, she noted if a woman can’t speak up and tell “the best man in the room” that what he is doing is making her uncomfortable, then the culture of sexual violence will never truly dissipate.

In the end, she said, that was always the goal of #MeToo. It wasn’t meant to be political or racial or get behind any other cause to which the media has attached it. It was created to help heal the victims of sexual crimes and inspire action to ensure there won’t be more victims in the future.

“#MeToo isn’t a movement about taking down powerful men or naming a list of accusers, that’s not sustainable,” she said. “You can’t build a movement around that. That is activity that just begets more activity and you keep going around in a circle. Meanwhile, nothing gets solved … so this opportunity is being wasted on the wrong narratives.”

Over the hour-long speech, the crowd hung on every word Burke said and in the end, the halls were filled with conversations about how attendees could be more active and effect change.

“It made me feel guilty for not doing more,” said Rose Callahan, a CU Boulder junior who is majoring in women’s and gender studies. “It definitely got me thinking ‘Wow, I’m graduating in a year I have so much time to do some of these things.’ It was just two years ago that #MeToo went viral and in another two years who knows where we are all going to be.”

John Spina: 303-473-1389, or

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