Activist, author and founder of the #MeToo Movement, Tarana Burke, is coming to Cal Poly’s Multi-Activity Center (MAC) Monday night to discuss healing as a survivor as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The event, titled “An Evening with Tarana Burke,” will be hosted by Cal Poly Safer from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Safer’s website and its director, Kara Samaniego, the program will include a brief keynote address from Burke followed by a moderated discussion with Black Student Union (BSU) President Chloe Wardrick and Vice President Maddie Jackson. Admission is free and open to current students, faculty, staff and alumni.

This event will be held in person, with the MAC having a maximum capacity of 600. An additional online viewing opinion is available to help make Burke’s presentation as accessible to everyone as possible, according to Samaniego.

Tarana Burke, a survivor herself, founded the “Me Too” movement in 2006 as a way to support victims of sexual violence. According to Samaniego, this movement was originally targeted towards helping survivors who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. It wasn’t until 2017 that #MeToo went viral, bringing the grassroots organization to a global stage.

Samaniego said Burke has been on their list of “dream speakers” to host. Following the main discussion, Burke will do a short Q&A portion with pre-selected questions as a part of the main event. There will also be a private reception and book signing prior with campus leaders, Black faculty members and some students, including guests from BSU and Safer.

Ultimately, this event and the activities hosted by Safer throughout the month of April are all about healing for survivors of sexual violence, Samaniego said. Specifically with this event, Safer has wanted to make sure to amplify Black voices in keeping with what Burke founded her activism on, as their voices are often underrepresented.

“What we want out of the event is for people, particularly survivors, more specifically than that our Black survivors, to just be able to put down that weight for a moment and be in community with one another and hear Tarana’s words and find healing,” Samaniego said.  “And also to recognize the power that survivors have, particularly when we are in community with one another.” 

Burke will be discussing healing, specifically within marginalized communities, and the power that survivors hold.

In addition to working with Burke’s team, Safer has worked with BSU, the Office of University Diversity & Inclusion and ASI to host the event, according to Samaniego.

Throughout the month of April, Safer will be hosting more events geared toward healing, including their annual “Take Back the Night” event that includes a celebration of resiliency among survivors and a memorial service for those who’ve been lost to sexual violence.

Take Back the Night will be held Thursday, April 28 from 6 p.m to 8 p.m in the UU Plaza. It will feature live music, food, art, a candlelight vigil and a solidarity march. 

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