Brittany Packnett Cunningham

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Brittany Packnett Cunningham
Brittany Packnett.jpg
Brittany N. Packnett

(1984-11-12) November 12, 1984 (age 36)
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis (BA)
American University (MEd)
OccupationActivist, non-profit executive, podcast host
Spouse(s)Reginald Cunningham (m. 2019)

Brittany N. Packnett Cunningham (born November 12, 1984) is an American activist and the co-founder of Campaign Zero.[1][2] She was a member of President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.[3] She was previously executive director for Teach for America in St. Louis, Missouri.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Packnett Cunningham was born on November 12, 1984. She was raised as the daughter of a pastor and ordained Baptist minister in St. Louis, which led to her commitment to social justice. She attended John Burroughs School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in secondary education from American University.[5]


In 2014, while Packnett was the executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis, she became involved in the protests that erupted after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. She used Twitter and other social media to fight back against the distorted narrative the media was painting surrounding the protests. Packnett became a significant figure of Black Twitter, where she spoke out about education, voting rights, and equal pay.[6]

The Washington Post described Packnett as "heavily involved in the planning and coordination of the Ferguson protest," and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed her to serve on the Ferguson Commission established to respond to the unrest.[7]

In the summer of 2015, Brittany cofounded Campaign Zero, a policy platform designed to end police violence. That same year she was appointed to Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which emerged at the height of the police violence crisis. Time magazine named Packnett to a 2015 list of "12 New Faces of Black Leadership."[8] She was also named to The Root magazine's 2015 Root 100 list, wherein she was described as "the bridge over turbulent, troubled waters."[9] Ebony cited Packnett with Johnetta Elzie, Deray Mckesson, and Samuel Sinyangwe to its 2015 Power 100 list for their work on Campaign Zero.[10]

In 2016, she was promoted to Vice President of National Community Alliances at Teach for America and began the organization's first civil rights and equality campaign.[6]

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Packnett endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, stating: "This is not about me. This is about the work. The best way I can use my platform is to support Secretary Clinton."[11]

In a 2017 NPR interview, Packnett encouraged white people to use the essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh as a tool for recognizing and combating their white privilege.[12]

During a May 2020 interview on MSNBC about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Packnett Cunningham said, "America needs to ask itself why only a viral consumption of black suffering can actually bring action."[13]

Personal life[edit]

In 2019, Brittany Packnett married fellow activist Reginald Cunningham in New Orleans. The couple met in 2014 at a protest in their hometown of St. Louis. The couple was married at artist Brandan "Bmike" Odums' gallery, Studio BE, while standing between room-length portraits of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr..[14]


  1. ^ Cornish, Audie (August 26, 2015). "Black Lives Matter Publishes 'Campaign Zero' Plan To Reduce Police Violence". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Pod Save The People Archives". Crooked Media. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  3. ^ Rhodan, Maya (July 8, 2016). "Why Obama's Police Reform Is a Work in Progress". Time. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  4. ^ Pearce, Matt (November 22, 2014). "Women find their voice in Ferguson protest movement". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  5. ^ Evans, Kelley D. (2017-05-18). "Activist Brittany Packnett is woke, and she's empowering others too". The Undefeated. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  6. ^ a b Imani, Blair (2018). Modern Herstory. California: Ten Speed Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-399-58223-3.
  7. ^ Lowery, Wesley (December 18, 2014). "Obama names task force to examine trust between police and minority communities". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Meet 12 New Faces of Black Leadership". Time. January 16, 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  9. ^ "The Root 100 – 2015". The Root. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  10. ^ "2015 Power 100". Ebony. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  11. ^ Melissa Harris-Perry (October 2016): "Black Lives Matter Activist Brittany Packnett on Why She's Finally #WithHer", Elle
  12. ^ "Combating Racism After Charlottesville". NPR. August 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "Activist: 'Justice is impossible' for Ahmaud Arbery". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  14. ^ "Bridal Bliss: A Round Of Applause For Brittany and Reginald's Woke New Orleans Wedding". Essence. Retrieved 2020-05-08.

External links[edit]