The founder and leader of a social movement against sexual harassment and assault received a prestigious award Thursday from a pro-media institute.
Tarana J. Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, received the inaugural Power Shift Award at the fourth annual First Expressions Awards sponsored by the Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute in D.C.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), a noted feminist who has championed women’s rights for over five decades, presented the award to Burke.
“We want to praise Tarana, whose work to end sexual violence has exploded into worldwide consciousness,” Norton said. “The #MeToo movement caught on October 2017 when Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of abusing women sexually.”
Norton said that while tens of millions of people around the world spoke up after the Weinstein accusation became public, the movement behind the viral hashtag got its start more than a decade ago when Burke talked to a 10-year-old African-American girl who was sexually abused by a relative’s boyfriend.
Burke said she was humbled by the award.
“#MeToo started as a grassroots movement and went worldwide,” she said. “This is our moment of truth.”
Burke said she wants people who are victimized by sexual violence and harassment to be less vulnerable. She called on the many journalists in the audience “to do your job well” and “don’t be biased and tell the truth.”
“Every 24 hours, 12 million people are affected by sexual violence,” Burke said. “Our work is far from being done. Remember, hashtags aren’t movements, just tools.”