Me Too founder Tarana Burke on becoming a young mum, sexual assault, and meeting Barack Obama

My husband is a little old-school and traditional, so marriage was very important to him. I love him and wanted to be in a partnership with him. That could have looked a number of ways, but I appreciate marriage now way more than I did. My husband was the first person I told about the sexual assault that happened to me as a seven-year-old. He created a space for me to feel safe.

My husband was the first person I told about the sexual assault that happened to me as a seven-year-old.

TARANA BURKE, ME TOO FOUNDER

Me Too holds a monumental place in pop culture and culture in general. The movement has been heavily influenced by social media and mainstream media coverage focusing on celebrities and celebrity culture and individual cases of sexual assault. That is a big concern because if we continue in that fashion, then we lose ground in our fight to make sure sexual assault survivors get justice.

Me Too includes women, men’s voices and people on the gender spectrum; when we speak collectively, we speak in one voice. There is so much power and we don’t have to look for power outside of ourselves.

I met Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2015. He was pushing his way into the hearts and minds of American citizens and I was enamoured of his presence and poise, and of him as a person. He delivered a speech at Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. He wouldn’t let the event start until somebody found activist Joanne Bland, who was there in 1965 during the “Bloody Sunday” march.