TIME magazine has revealed the “silence breakers” of the#MeToo movement against sexual assault were awarded its 2017 Person of the Year title on Wednesday.
Gracing the cover of the special edition issue were sexual harassment and assault survivors actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift, corporate lobbyist Adama Iwu, worker Isabel Pascual and former Uber engineer Susan Fowler. Although #MeToo founder Tarana Burke was lamentably absent from the cover, the magazine interviewed the Philadelphia activist along with other sexual assault survivors who’ve recently spoken out about their experiences.
Burke founded the Me Too movement in 2006, more than a decade before actress Alyssa Milano coincidentally used the same phrase on Twitter to encourage fellow survivors to share their stories. Burke’s campaign was geared toward victims of sexual assault who were minorities and/or lived in lower-income neighborhoods.
“It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” Burke, who currently serves as the program director at Girls for Gender Equity, told EBONY in October. “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.”
While the nature of hashtags and the internet’s short attention span may have hinted that the movement would fade into a cyber abyss, nearly two months later, its impact is ever-present.
“I could never imagine this, I could never have envisioned something that could change the world,” the 44-year-old told NBC’s Today show about her crusade.
“The shame is not on ours to hold. The shame is on the perpetrator. Me Too can be the conversation starter or it can be the conversation,” she told TIME. “There’s a direct response to that arrogance and that show of power and that bullying that says we won’t be silenced.”