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Founder of Me Too Movement to Receive Women’s Advocacy Award at Cabrini

Posted on 8/29/2019 1:29:03 PM

Tarana BurkeRADNOR, Pa. (Aug. 29, 2019)—On Sept. 19, Tarana Burke, Founder of the Me Too movement and social justice activist, will receive the Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award during a ceremony at Cabrini University.

Awarded annually, the Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions in the field of public affairs.

For more than 25 years, activist and advocate Tarana J. Burke has worked at the intersection of racial justice, arts and culture, and sexual violence. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly black women and girls, Burke has created and led various campaigns, including the Me Too movement, focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities.

A proud native of the Bronx, Burke’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s when she joined The 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and led campaigns on issues including racial discrimination, housing inequality, and economic justice. Her organizing and advocacy work continued in college and remains a pillar of her professional life, which she began in Selma, Alabama. In Selma, she assisted the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement in the mentoring of youth leaders, served as a curator and consultant at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, played a continuing role in organizing the annual commemoration of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle and events leading up to the Selma to Montgomery March, and created and oversaw cultural programs for underserved youth in Alabama as Executive Director of the Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center.

In 2003, Burke co-founded Just Be Inc., an organization committed to the leadership development and wellness of Black girls. After too many encounters with young people whose lives were affected by sexual violence, Burke realized how many were suffering through abuse without access to resources, safe spaces, and support. In 2006, she began working with students in the Black Belt using Me Too to fill that void and serve as a tool for healing, education, and action. In the years following, the Me Too movement expanded beyond young people to include adults, queer and trans folks, and all marginalized groups.

In October 2017, #MeToo became a viral phenomenon that quickly spread around the world. Burke emerged as a global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence and the need for survivor-centered solutions. Her theory of using empathy to empower survivors is changing the way the world thinks about and engages with survivors. Her belief that healing isn’t a destination, but a journey has touched and inspired millions of survivors who previously lived with the pain, shame, and trauma of their assaults in isolation.

Burke was named Time Magazine 2017 Person of the Year along with the “Silence Breakers,” a group recognized for standing up against sexual harassment and violence. In 2018, she was featured on the covers of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and Variety Magazine’s Power of Women issue. She is the recipient of the Ridenhour Prize, The Change Makers Award from Black Girls Rock, and topped the 2018 The Root 100 list as the most influential African American.

Through the generosity of their respective families, friends, and alumni, the Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award was established in 1992 by William G. Willis to honor Ivy, his late wife, and later modified in 2014 by John Dale to honor Martha, his late wife and daughter of Ivy and William. The award and program are dedicated to their memories and their strong beliefs that women have a unique talent for improving the climate and conduct of public affairs.

For more information, visit cabrini.edu/willisaward.

About Cabrini University

Founded in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cabrini University is a Catholic institution that empowers students to become advocates of social change through an Education of the Heart, focusing on academic excellence, community engagement, and leadership development.

Cabrini enrolls approximately 1,700 undergraduates in more than 40 majors and several pre-professional programs, concentrations, and minors on its serene 112-acre campus located 30 minutes from Philadelphia. Approximately 900 students pursue graduate, doctoral, and professional studies programs at Cabrini’s main campus in Radnor, PA, at five off-campus locations, and through online programs.