New York activist credited with founding 'MeToo' movement
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, October 17, 2017 11:26AM EDT
An activist from Harlem, New York is being credited with inventing the “Me Too” movement, which has been recently popularized online with a hashtag that actor Alyssa Milano encouraged victims of sexual assault and harassment to use.
Milano asked her followers to use the hashtag #MeToo in a tweet she posted on Sunday afternoon.
The hashtag quickly took off and was tweeted by tens of thousands of users after Milano’s request.
The conversation about sexual assault and harassment towards women has been reignited after dozens of females came forward in the past few weeks to accuse former Hollywood studio executive Harvey Weinstein of it.
Milano’s former “Charmed” co-star Rose McGowan was particularly vocal about the allegations against Weinstein and encouraged others to speak up about the problem on Twitter.
A representative for Weinstein has refuted all of the accusations against him. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein," Sallie Hofmeister said on Thursday.
In a tweet posted Monday evening, Milano announced that she’d just been made aware of an earlier #MeToo movement invented by Tarana Burke a decade ago.
“I was just made aware of an earlier #MeToo movement, and the origin story is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring,” Milano tweeted.
The “heartbreaking and inspiring” story the actor referred to was detailed by Burke in a post written on the website for Just Be Inc., an organization she founded dedicated to helping young black women. Burke shares a moment when a young girl told her about how she was sexually assaulted during a youth camp and she was unable to comfort her in that time of need.
“I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too,” Burke shared in the post.
The 44-year-old activist started the grassroots “Me Too” movement as a way to support victims of sexual assault in underprivileged communities and to let them know they’re not alone.
Even though she wasn’t given initial credit for the idea, Burke took to Twitter to share her support for the #MeToo hashtag in series of tweets sent out over the past few days.
“It made my heart swell to see women using this idea - one that we call ‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo” she wrote on Sunday.
“It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us,” Burke wrote.
It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us. #metoo— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) October 15, 2017