Exclusive: Tarana Burke Reveals the Cover of Her Memoir, "Unbound"

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Leigh Haber
·2 min read
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Photo credit: An Oprah Book/Flatiron
Photo credit: An Oprah Book/Flatiron

This fall, activist Tarana Burke will publish her debut memoir, Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement (An Oprah Book/Flatiron). In it, she shares the experiences that led her to found Me Too, including the sexual assault that upended her childhood.

The book's cover, which is an image of Burke as conceived by American fiber artist Bisa Butler, is being revealed exclusively by Oprah Daily.

Photo credit: An Oprah Book/Flatiron
Photo credit: An Oprah Book/Flatiron

The image vibrant image is of a one of a kind quilt that was specially made by Butler for the cover using silk, velvet, and hand-dyed cotton for her face and neck, cotton for her hair, Dutch wax and African wax for her clothing, and silk damask for the background.

Butler is renowned for her quilted portraits that celebrate Black life, history, and everyday people she sees—on buses, on streets, in her Brooklyn neighborhood—and finds beautiful, which is why Burke specifically asked her editor, Bryn Clark, to hire her to create the cover image. As an artist, Butler first tried painting, but found her efforts "flat." At Howard University, her professors encouraged her not to follow European styles, but to instead infuse her work with "American life."

She began gluing fabric onto painted canvases, but when she discovered quilting, soon after graduating from college, marrying, and having a daughter, she realized: "I don't need a canvas, a board, or even paint," and that quilting was something that honored the ancestors and that she could do at home, with her daughter by her side.

It's fitting that Butler, who is an artist/activist, would be chosen to create the cover for Burke's book, as the memoir "explores how to piece back together our fractured selves, and to empower each other through empathy." Clark—Burke's editor—told Oprah Daily the collaboration between Burke and Butler to produce the stunning cover, "felt like the book's essence—it speaks to the Tarana's mission in writing the book, which is to produce healing."

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