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7 p.m., UCCS Gallogly Event Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., $4, uccspresents.org.
he #MeToo movement has changed our culture in an astonishingly short time. With those who have suffered sexual assault, harassment and abuse speaking out louder than they ever have, and the general public finally paying attention, media and politics have become more aware of women’s voices and the prevalence of sexual violence. This movement, though it has spread like wildfire past its origin, can be traced back to one woman: Tarana Burke, an activist out of New York City who was fed up with silence and decided that she needed to help survivors raise their voices.
Now, 13 years after Burke first wrote the words “Me Too” on a piece of paper that would become her action plan for raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault, she stands at the forefront of a pivotal moment in history. It’s an honor, then, that she will be here in Colorado Springs on April 16, speaking as UCCS’ 2019 Significant Speaker — during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, no less.
In a 2018 speech at TEDWomen, Burke confessed that in the face of the movement’s opposition, she had grown tired and, to use her word, “numb.” This was after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, after Burke witnessed the hateful rhetoric turned on his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. It is natural for a movement to tire in the face of such a blow as Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but Burke spoke beautifully about what this numbness means to her: “Sometimes when you hear the world ‘numb,’ you think of a void,” she said. “An absence of feeling, or even an inability to feel. But that’s not always true. ... For me, numbness comes from looking in the faces of survivors and knowing everything to say, but having nothing left to give. It’s measuring the magnitude of this task ahead of you versus your own wavering fortitude. Numbness is not always the absence of feeling, sometimes it’s an accumulation of feelings.”
But for every abuser who has made it unscathed through credible accusations, including our own president, there are countless more people joining movements like this one every day, just waiting to turn the tide. Join Burke’s movement tonight as you listen to her speech, then join the Colorado Springs Feminists afterward for a social hour with food and drinks at Clyde’s Gastropub on the UCCS campus.
“Those who came before us didn’t win every fight,” Burke reminded her TEDWomen audience, “but they didn’t let it kill their vision… so I can’t stop, and I’m asking you not to stop either. We owe future generations a world free of sexual violence. I believe we can build that world. Do you?”