Aug. 3

Annenberg Center


Spike Lee and Tarana Burke in Conversation

Presented by Color of Change and Open Society Foundations

Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Do The Right Thing, filmmaker Spike Lee and activist Tarana Burke will discuss the possibilities of using radical storytelling to center social justice and foster narrative change. In many ways not much has changed socially and politically since the release of Do The Right Thing in 1989. In other ways things appear worlds apart. Lee, who recently won an Oscar and Burke, founder of ‘me too.’ , both known for shifting the proverbial needle, will highlight the implications of breaking open urgent conversations by centering the people and stories that exist on the margins. 

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Tarana Burke

Founder of The ‘me too’ Movement & Social Justice Activist

For over 25 years, activist and advocate Tarana J. Burke has worked at the intersection of racial justice and sexual violence. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly black women and girls, Tarana has launched initiatives focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities. A proud native of the Bronx, NY, Tarana’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s when as a young girl, she joined a youth development organization and led campaigns around issues like racial discrimination, housing inequality and economic justice. In 2007, she founded JustBe Inc., an organization committed to the empowerment and wellness of black girls. It was during that time that ‘me too.’ was born as a tool to help heal and provide a safe space for young people to share their stories. Her theory of using empathy to empower survivors is changing the way the world thinks about and engages with survivors. Her belief that healing isn’t a destination but a journey has touched and inspired millions of survivors who previously lived with the pain, shame and trauma of their assaults in isolation.

Spike Lee


Since the 1980s, producer, director, writer, and actor Spike Lee has created provocative films, documentaries, and commercials that explore crime, race relations, political issues, and representation as it pertains to folks of color. Lee’s first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It premiered in 1986, grossing over $7 million, making it one of the most profitable films that year. With admirable Brooklyn pride, Spike created Do the Right Thing in 1989, which examines through a critical lens, race relations, gentrification, economics, crime and violence in Bed-Stuy, a community historically filled with folks of color in Brooklyn, NY. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.  His latest film BlacKkKlansman, the story of an African-American detective’s success at infiltrating the KKK in the 1970s received six Academy Award nominations, landing Spike his first competitive Oscar wins for Directing and Adapted Screenplay. Other works of Lee’s include: Malcolm X, Mo Better Blues, 4 little Girls, among others. Lee has also has had success directing commercials for brands such as Nike and Capital One. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, is located in his childhood neighborhood of Fort Greene in Brooklyn