#MeToo founder discusses activism, role of women in civil rights movement during MLK address at Duke Chapel

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Several hundred people gathered inside Duke Chapel Sunday afternoon for a ceremony in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The event, held a day before the national holiday, included songs, poetry, and speeches, with a split focus on the importance of the civil rights movement and work advocates hope to tackle moving forward.

"In order to build effective, sustainable movements, we have to believe in something that seems impossible to others is actually possible," said Tamara Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, who served as the keynote speaker.

Burke stressed the difficulty of creating such change in an era of instant gratification.

It's change that was seen in shifting attitudes over the presence of Confederate monuments in Durham. Mayor Steve Schewel praised a City Council appointed committee's recommendation to put a Confederate monument that was torn down by protesters in August 2017 inside the courthouse, while providing context about its history.

"The statue will be in a place where anyone who wants to see it and read about it can do so. But it will also be in a room where nobody has to walk by it. Where no one who will be pained by this reminder of enslavement need ever see it again," said Mayor Schewel.

Earlier in his remarks, Schewel congratulated University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt's decision to remove the base of Silent Sam, which drew a loud applause from the crowd.

He further criticized that university's Board of Governors, alleging they were out of touch with the sentiments of the majority of students and faculty in light of their decision to move up Folt's ending date.

While the focus of today's gathering naturally focused on Dr. King, Burke was quick to note the importance of women in the movement.

"Dr. King not only had women around him but relied on their leadership and their vision," Burke said.

Some of those names Burke mentioned included Dr. Johnnie Carr and Jo Ann Robinson who founded the Montgomery Improvement Association, and Rosa Parks, a strategist best known for her bus sit-in.

As for the movement she helped create, Burke vowed to push forward, quoting a speech from Dr. King.

"The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood - peoplehood - the normalcy of true peace, and the normalcy of justice," Burke said.

To watch the entirety of Sunday's MLK Commemoration, you can click here.
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