October 22, 2020
Hear activist and founder of the ‘me too.’ Movement Tarana Burke in conversation with conceptual artist and political activist Nadya Tolokonnikova. Jenna Wortham of The New York Times Magazine and Still Processing podcast moderates. Q&A and video works featured in BMA Screening Room to follow. The evening begins with a performance by the interdisciplinary artist and musician JOJO ABOT.
October 22, 2020
About the Speaker
Tarana Burke is a social activist best known for creating the ‘me too.’ Movement that raises awareness of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, and gives hope to survivors. A native of Bronx, New York, Burke’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s when she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century Leaders and helped launch initiatives against racial discrimination, housing inequality, and economic justice. Following her education at Alabama State University and Auburn University at Montgomery, Burke held leadership positions with 21st Century Leaders, Black Belt Foundation, and Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, and also served as a consultant on exhibits and programs for the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute. In 2003, she co-founded an African-centered rites of passage program for girls called Jendayi Aza that evolved in 2006 to become a non-profit called Just Be Inc. This program focused on the well-being of young women of color and was later adopted by every public school in Selma. It was while working at Just Be Inc. that Burke first spoke the words “me too” when trying to empathize with a young woman who was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She then began promoting the idea of “empowerment through empathy” and designing a campaign to facilitate healing and train survivors to work in communities without crisis services. In 2008, Burke also became Managing Director of Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia, which focuses community building through black art, and in 2014 served as a consultant for the Oscar-nominated film Selma. Her ‘me too’ initiative gained worldwide recognition in 2017 during the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, when the hashtag #metoo went viral and helped start a larger conversation around sexual violence. Burke became Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, NY in 2018 and is currently Executive Director of the ‘me too.’ International organization. Among the many accolades she has received are the 2017 Person of the Year (along with other silence-breakers) from Time magazine, 2018 Voices of the Year Catalyst Award from SheKnows Media, and Australia’s 2019 Sydney Peace Prize. Burke leads empowerment workshops around the world and has a forthcoming book about her journey titled Here the Light Enters: The Founding of the ‘me too.’ Movement.
Nadya Tolokonnikova is a conceptual artist and political activist from Russia. She is a founding member of the art collective Pussy Riot, which focuses attention on feminism, LGBT rights, and human rights violations at home and abroad. In August 2012, she was sentenced to two years imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance by Pussy Riot in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This protest attracted international media attention and support from Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Björk, Aung San Suu Kyi, and many others. Shortly after her release in December 2013, Tolokonnikova announced the opening of an independent news service and media outlet, MediaZona, which reports on Russia’s courts, law enforcement, and prison system. She has spoken before the U.S. Congress, British Parliament, and European Parliament, and has appeared on stage with world leaders including former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Tolokonnikova is a Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipient, has appeared as
herself on season three of House of Cards, and performed the Pussy Riot song “Refugees In” as part of Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition. Most recently, she has produced and starred in three new Pussy Riot music videos: “Police State,” “Straight Outta Vagina,” and “Make America Great Again,” which portrays the future of the United States under President Trump.
Jenna Wortham is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and co-host of the podcast Still Processing. She is also a sound healer, reiki practitioner, herbalist, and community-care worker, oriented towards healing justice and liberation.