Northwest Missouri State University lecture to feature ‘me too’ movement founder Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke, a social justice activist and the founder of the “me too” movement, will appear at Northwest Missouri State University as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series and deliver the University’s 2017-18 James H. Lemon Lecture.

Burke shares the story behind the genesis of last year’s viral and Time magazine Person of the Year-winning “me too” movement while giving strength and healing to people who have experienced sexual trauma or harassment.

The lecture is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in the Mary Linn Auditorium at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.

The “me too” hashtag campaign emerged as a rallying cry for people everywhere who have survived sexual assault and sexual harassment. Burke’s powerful, poignant story as the creator of what is now an international movement that supports survivors has moved, uplifted and inspire audiences. She provides words of empowerment that lift up marginalized voices and enable survivors of all races, genders or classes to know they are not alone.

“We hope that students become more mindful and more thoughtful of sexual harassment,” Kenton Wilcox, the chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series Committee and an English instructor at the University, said. “Understanding workplace harassment is a core part of their ready for employment knowledge.”

Burke has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. The movement now inspires solidarity, amplifies the voices of thousands of victims of sexual abuse and puts the focus back on survivors. In her upcoming book, “Where the Light Enters,” Burke discusses the importance of the “me too” movement as well as her personal journey from “victim to survivor to thriver.”

A sexual assault survivor herself, Burke now works under the banner of the “me too” movement to assist other survivors and individuals who work to end sexual violence. She also is senior director of programs at the Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity.

“As we see in the media, issues about sexual harassment and workplace harassment continue to be central debates we see in Hollywood, Senate, and our daily lives,” Wilcox said. “Tarana Burke’s presence on campus that evening will hopefully draw an audience that wants to learn more and be more capable of discussing this often controversial topic.”

Tickets are available to Northwest students and employees on the Northwest campus at the cashiering office located on the first floor of the Administration Building and will be available to the public starting Oct. 8. Tickets are free and limited to two per person.

The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through its exploration of interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Student Activities Council, the series presents the Northwest campus and surrounding communities with opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals from around the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight, and experiences.

The Lemon Lecture is funded through the generosity of Beatrice E. Hanson, who graduated from Northwest in 1936. The program is named in honor of James H. Lemon, her grandfather and a founder of the Fifth District Normal School, which is now Northwest Missouri State University.