Creator of original "Me Too" campaign speaks out

Last Updated Oct 17, 2017 11:02 PM EDT

A black female activist says she's the original creator of the "Me Too" campaign that has taken over social media in the wake of sexual assault and harassment allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Tarana Burke, 44, says she created the movement in 2007 to let young women of color who survive sexual assault know that they are not alone.

"It wasn't built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow," Burke told Ebony in a recent interview. "It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible."

Actress Alyssa Milano turned the phrase into a viral hashtag Sunday, asking victims to share their stories with "#MeToo." Millions of women did so, and the outpouring of painful recollections on Twitter and Facebook shed new light on how pervasive the problem really is.

On Tuesday, Milano credited Burke as the creator and called her story "heartbreaking" and "inspiring."

"What's happening now is powerful and I salute it and the women who have disclosed but the power of using 'me too' has always been in the fact that it can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation — but it was us talking to us," Burke told Ebony.

"I think that women of color use social media to make our voices heard with or without the amplification of White women," Burke said. "I also think that many times when White women want our support, they use an umbrella of 'women supporting women' and forget that they didn't lend the same kind of support."

Burke posted video to Twitter on Monday from the March to End Rape Culture in Philadelphia in 2014. She addresses the crowd while wearing a "me too" t-shirt.

"And 'me too' is a movement to, among other things, radicalize the notion of mass healing," Burke says in the video. "As a community, we create a lot of space for fighting and pushing back, but not enough for connecting and healing."

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Tarana Burke

Courtesy of Tarana Burke