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"Me Too" creator Tarana Burke: "We have to make movements ourselves"

"Me Too" creator speaks
Founder of "Me Too" movement speaks out 08:13

NEW YORK -- The sexual harassment allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked an online movement in which women used the hashtag "#MeToo" on social media platforms to highlight how pervasive the issue of harassment is, and express solidarity with fellow victims of abuse.

The hashtag was inspired by actress Alyssa Milano's call to action on Twitter, and celebrities from Reese Witherspoon to Olympian McKayla Maroney shared their personal stories and experiences with sexual harassment.

But the original "Me Too" movement was started over a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke. She joined CBSN on Friday afternoon to discuss the origins of the campaign and how it's recently taken over social media.

"'Me Too' started, not as a hashtag, but as a campaign from an organization that I founded: Just Be Inc.," said Burke. "And empowerment through empathy was the thing that I felt helped me, was that other survivors who empathize with my situation help me to feel like I wasn't alone and gave me entry to my healing journey," Burke told CBS News' Reena Ninan.

#MeToo floods social media with stories of sexual abuse, harassment 03:49

"My focus, in all the work that I do, is for the most marginalized people. So I worked with young women of color in the south and then, when we moved our work onto a MySpace page, and women started coming forward and talking to us, saying 'thank you for this' and 'we needed it.' We realized that we had to expand to more than young people, so we worked with young women, mostly black and brown women throughout the south, and later Philadelphia and New York."

Burke says she's been in touch with Milano since the #MeToo hashtag took off. She says people questioned why Burke's name wasn't attached to Milano's call to action, but the actress soon reached out to her and asked to meet.

"We've talked about collaborating," Burke says of Milano, "she's very committed to making sure the goals of the work that I do are met."

Burke also addressed critics of the movement who said if the movement were only for women of color then it would not have received the traction that it did with the Hollywood celebrities.

Harvey Weinstein scandal: The power of women sharing their stories 04:32

"It's true. I think we've seen that before, in other cases. Leslie Jones was targeted online, on Twitter, and there was not a groundswell of support for her across Hollywood. I think that's the case, not just in Hollywood, but people of color are usually the last to be supported around a variety of issues."

She said people of color are usually the last to see this type of support because of "racism, oppression and the way systems work" in America. "So, we have to speak up ourselves. We have to create movements ourselves. We have to insert ourselves in larger movements."

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is one of the latest actresses to speak out against Weinstein with an op-ed in The New York Times. Burke says "this is evidence that this happens across the board."

"We've had all of these other actresses who have come forward haven't been people of color and made it seem like it might just be white women, and it's not, these people who are predators, prey on everybody," Burke said.

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