Tarana Burke

Maker of a movement

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When I first met Tarana Burke, I found a kindred spirit, somebody else who’s been screaming into the hurricane. Somebody else who’s been advocating for survivors of rape and sexual assault, and specifically young black women, whose voices have been silenced at best and completely erased from the national dialogue at worst.

She was kind enough to film a guest spot for the upcoming finale of Being Mary Jane. Between takes, it was both of us talking and strategizing, venting and celebrating. You want a leader who truly believes in inclusivity. For Tarana, it’s not about personal gain or attention but doing the work in a way that makes people feel like they can join in.

When you’ve been sidelined for so long, it’s exhilarating to know that such a powerful voice is finally breaking through. Tarana will continue to do this work, but the stage will be bigger and the microphone turned all the way up. She will inspire legislation and new crops of voters. She will sway old voters. She will open eyes. She’s not even going to bring more seats to the table—she’s going to turn the table over and build a new one.

Union is an actor and activist and the star of BET’s Being Mary Jane

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