Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Activist. Educator. Thinker. Writer. Speaker. Change Agent.

United States

Brittany Packnett Cunningham is an activist, educator, writer, and leader at the intersection of culture and justice. Currently, she serves as Vice President of Social Impact for BET, and is the host and executive producer of the podcast UNDISTRACTED, a news and justice platform. She is also an MSNBC Political Analyst specializing in issues of politics, race, gender and social justice. Brittany is a former elementary teacher, education executive and former 3-time Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Harvard fellow. She was member of President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force and the Ferguson Commission. Brittany’s forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, is due to hit shelves soon.

Brittany has graced the cover of British Vogue and Essence Magazine, been listed as one of Time’s 12 New Faces of Black Leadership, and has been honored by BET, Politico Magazine, Marie Claire, The Trayvon Martin Foundation and more. She serves on the Gucci Changemakers Council, the Sephora Equity Advisors Board, The Children's Defense Fund Action Council and the board of New Disabled South.

British Vogue
Activist Reginald Cunningham Captured His Powerhouse Wife Brittany Packnett For The September Cover

Few covers have a backstory as romantic as Reginald Cunningham's portrait of Brittany Packnett Cunningham. When British Vogue decided to spotlight leading activists for its September 2020 issue, the magazine asked Cunningham to photograph the co-founder of Campaign Zero and former host of the podcast Pod Save the People - who also happens to be his wife of less than a year.

Argent: Brittany Packnett Cunningham | Work Friends | Argent

Activist, educator, writer, and podcaster, Brittany-BPC, if you're friendly-is coincidentally also learning to practice the art of rest. She may be overcommitted, but she knows what she's capable of and "leverages" (stop saying it, stop saying it) every ounce of it for good.

W Magazine
Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham's Post-Election Road Map

In 2015, President Barack Obama told Brittany Packnett Cunningham her voice was "going to be making a difference for years to come." That was just one year into her pivot to activism; before a police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in her hometown, St. Louis, Packnett Cunningham was an elementary school teacher.

8 Empowering Ted Talks to Get Into This Women's History Month

Ted Talks give a platform to those looking to use their voices on various subjects-from thought leaders to celebs to even everyday people-as a means of motivational content made to inspire us daily. They encourage us to think bigger and help us conceptualize a way of creating tangible change.

British Vogue
The 20 Remarkable Activists On Vogue's September Cover Are Ready To Change The World

In the weeks following the killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement gave voice to a global cry for change. From systemic racism to disability discrimination and domestic abuse, gender inequality to the climate crisis, in the cover story, Afua Hirsch meets the activists determined to make a difference the world over.

Emmett Till images have multigenerational impact on artists

As the first-ever feature-length retelling of the lynching of Emmett Till goes into wide release, so does an art campaign meant to honor the power of images like those of his open casket that were printed by the Black press.

American Civil Liberties Union
Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham on Building a Lasting Movement | ACLU

In the last month, protests have erupted across the country calling for justice for Black lives, a wholesale restructuring of policing, and a greater racial reckoning across all facets of American society. "All of these things are interconnected," Brittany Packnett Cunningham told At Liberty this week.

The Root
Exclusive: Brittany Packnett Cunningham Presents the Peabody Award for 'Full Disclosure'

As the state-sanctioned killings and subsequent non-convictions of police involved in the deaths of too many innocent Black people have proved, there is a profound lack of accountability when it comes to policing in the United States. But beyond the incidents themselves, who is tracking police who have escaped punishment, to ensure that they do no further harm?

KPBS Public Media

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV / On demand now with KPBS Passport! Henry Louis Gates, Jr. welcomes Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Anita Hill, two guests who made profound sacrifices for social justice, and helps them discover the ancestors who made sacrifices for them.

The Cut
Brittany Packnett on Speaking the Truth

On this episode of the podcast, editor-in-chief Stella Bugbee talks to activist Brittany Packnett about the first protest she ever went to, how she deals mentally and physically with death threats, and what role grief has played in her life and work.

Vanity Fair
Black Activists on the Movement for Justice

Despite the pervasive threat of the coronavirus pandemic, in which the United States has far outpaced other nations in terms of reported cases and deaths, hundreds of thousands of protesters have filled streets with demonstrations against police brutality and unchecked violence against Black Americans.

Crooked Media
Jesus Christ, Social Justice Star! | Crooked Media

Phillip Picardi: From Crooked Media, this is Unholier Than Thou. I'm your host, Phillip Picardi. After one month of playing Kelly Clarkson's Wrapped in Red Deluxe on repeat, that special time is almost upon us: Christmas Day!
What will it take for Democrats to back Black voters over white moderates?

Historically, voter fraud seems to be a consistent complaint when two things happen: when Republicans lose, and when Black people are the ones to defeat them. The idea that Black, brown and Indigenous voters could deliver a decisive blow to the white supremacist political aspirations of the Trump administration is, in some ways, an offense to those who've spent their careers - and certainly this election cycle - ensuring that would be nearly impossible.

The real reason Amber Guyger was convicted

Whether we are the victim or the accused, Black Americans knows better than to expect fairness from this country's courts. That's why we were justifiably shocked when ex-officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murder on Tuesday for shooting and killing Botham Shem Jean in his own Dallas apartment.

The Source
Packnett Cunningham, DeBaun to headline Ervin Scholars anniversary event

Ervin Scholars alumnae Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Morgan DeBaun will give a talk, "Bridging Gaps: Hometown Ervin Scholars Changing the World," as part of the 35th anniversary celebration of the John B. Ervin Scholars Program at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in Edison Theatre at Washington University in St. Louis.

Amanpour & Company
Activist Brittany Packnett

The fight for truth accountability and justice is fuel for our next guests' fire. President Obama described Brittany Packnett as a voice to make a difference for years to come. Pushing for police reform, she cofounded Campaign Zero, was a key face in the Black Lives Matter movement and established Teach for America's first civil rights agenda.

Blindfold Zine
Leading with Love & Power: Brittany Packnett

Brittany Packnett is a leader in social justice and empowerment. Her work with Campaign Zero, Teach for America and Pod Save the People has influenced thousands of individuals to improve policies that affect human rights and education. Brittany Packnett encourages others to use their power and privilege to demand social change.

The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace

The concept of intersectionality - referring to the complex and cumulative way different forms of discrimination like racism, sexism and classism overlap and affect people - seems have popped up relatively recently.

You Owe Me an Apology

Serena Williams is the GOAT by all athletic standards. LeBron James has proclaimed it. Colin Kaepernick declared it. I'm very sure her daughter Olympia believes it. There is no modern athlete as awarded and credentialed as her, and if she never stepped foot on a court again, her status as the greatest of all time is, for many of us, set in stone, cast in gold, and permanently irrefutable.

Black Enterprise
The NationSwell Summit Focuses on Solutions

Dynamic, inspiring speakers like Brittany Packnett of Teach for America and John King of the Education Trust; as well as Anu Partanen (author of The Nordic Theory of Everything), Lux Narayan (co-founder and CEO of Unmetric), and Kamili Wilson (vice president of Enterprise Initiatives at AARP) spoke hope into the room.

Teen Vogue
6 Feminists Take On Call-Out Culture

Thigh-High Politics is an op-ed column by Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca that breaks down the news, provides resources for the resistance, and just generally refuses to accept toxic nonsense. At the start of 2018, I was reflecting on resolutions for progressivism and feminism, specifically: How do we create a movement that is both inclusive and accessible for those still learning?

What most Americans get wrong about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy

You probably know civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. from his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech - but if that's all you know of him, you aren't getting the full story. "People don't know the true legacy of Dr. King because the truth would cause real disorder, " Brittany Packnett, an activist for racial justice, told Mic.

The Cut
Stacey Abrams's Win Is Just the Beginning

When Stacey Abrams made history last night, she took me to church. As she stood at her victory party in Atlanta, Georgia, she invoked the words of Queen Esther, a Biblical figure often referenced in black church sermons as an exemplar of courage under fire.

Brittany Packnett: "Separating families of color is as American as apple pie."

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on immigration for undocumented adults who cross the border. And since the Department of Justice can't prosecute the children who try to enter the United States with their parents, they are separated for days and sometimes months.

The Cut
Michelle Obama's Portrait Is for All of Us Black Girls

I am not an expert on art. I cannot distinguish a painting by its artistic era, nor can I expound on the significance of a brush stroke or dramatic use of light. I know the great works of black artists because my parents made sure I did, and I know art's most famous names because that was my teachers' job.

The 15 #MeToo Twitter accounts you need to follow

The odious figure of Harvey Weinstein will always be central to the #MeToo movement. It's the expansive accusations levied against him that broke the floodgates. But, as the creation of Time's Up has demonstrated, Weinstein and Hollywood are just the beginning the entry points for a larger, previously existing and growing movement.

Brittany Packnett: This is how we talk about the black victims of gun violence in America

Every time there's a national conversation about gun violence in America, we hear the same racist dog whistles: What about black-on-black crime? What about what's happening in Baltimore? What about what's happening in Chicago? In an exclusive video op-ed for Mic, activist Brittany Packnett is crying foul on all those disingenuous shows of concern for black lives.

What most Americans get wrong about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy

You probably know civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. from his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech - but if that's all you know of him, you aren't getting the full story. "People don't know the true legacy of Dr. King because the truth would cause real disorder, " Brittany Packnett, an activist for racial justice, told Mic.

Influential women share their superpowers at Blavity's Summit 21

June 8-9, the Atlanta Convention Center was packed with young professionals and notable women from various industries who united to celebrate changes in habits and creating a new lifestyle. These phenomenal women of color included Brittany Packnett, Natasha Murphy, and Ashley Blaine Featherson. They discussed their superpowers and purpose in life while at Summit 21...

Brittany Packnett honored at BET Awards

LOS ANGELES - A woman from St. Louis was honored in Los Angeles at the BET Awards for her leadership in social justice. Brittany Packnett was recognized for social justice advocacy during Sunday night's BET Awards. Packnett serves as Teach For America's Vice President of National Community Alliances where she leads partnerships and civil rights work with communities of color, according to BET.

'We Can Stop Him': Reproductive Health Advocates Urge Action to Stop Brett Kavanaugh's...

Brett Kavanaugh's ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court is not inevitable. That was the overriding message made to hundreds of people at the latest installment of the #RiseUpforRoe tour stop in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The nationwide tour, a project created by Demand Justice Initiative, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, features panel discussions about Kavanaugh's nomination to the Court.

The United State Of Women 2018 Moments - Essence

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images Over 6,000 women have descended on the Los Angeles to attend this year's United State of Women summit. What once started as a day-long event held at the Obama White House in 2016, has now evolved into a massive two-day extravaganza that will explore the current state of women in 2018.

The Cut
If You're Not Angry About Chikesia Clemons, You're Not Paying Attention

While watching the video of 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons at a Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama, I realized Chikesia could have easily been me, my friends, or my cousins. The clip, which circulated on social media yesterday, shows Chikesia sitting in a chair clutching her purse, while three white male police officers surround her, yelling and leaning over her before she's wrestled to the ground with her breasts exposed.

The Cut
How to Spend Your Privilege

My mother had strict rules. In high school, my curfews were earlier than all of my classmates'. Sleepovers were rare. Road trips were a nonstarter. It wasn't until I got older that I realized she wasn't punishing me; she was protecting me. She knew the world isn't safe for black girls.

Educators and Activists Discuss Civic and Political Engagement

The interconnection between the roles of educators and activists in today's political climate were evident Monday during a roundtable discussion at Howard University that featured students, former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr. and social justice activist Brittany Packnett.

Black Activist Gives Powerful Speech on Intersectionality * EBONY

Activist, educator and writer Brittany Packnett delivered a riveting break down of intersectionality during the New Rules Summit: Women, Leadership and a Playbook for Change in September. During the conference hosted in Brooklyn by The New York Times, Packnett explained the interplay of racism and sexism and how it forces women of color to navigate in the workplace and through the world.

The 15 #MeToo Twitter accounts you need to follow

The odious figure of Harvey Weinstein will always be central to the #MeToo movement. It's the expansive accusations levied against him that broke the floodgates. But, as the creation of Time's Up has demonstrated, Weinstein and Hollywood are just the beginning the entry points for a larger, previously existing and growing movement.
Combating Racism After Charlottesville

NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with educator and activist Brittany Packnett about how people can help fight racism and white supremacy in their daily lives. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: One day after President Trump condemned the white supremacist groups who marched on Charlottesville, he changed course again and spread the blame for the violence on the counterprotesters.

Black Celebrities Call For The Creation Of Black Monuments

Mic teamed up with 54 celebrities in an interactive project to call for monuments of Colin Kaepernick, Ida B. Wells and more. Over 50 actors, artists and creatives have teamed up with with a warm suggestion to honor black history makers in a creative and inspiring initiative.
ESSENCE Unveils List Of 100 Woke Women For The May 2017 Issue

ESSENCE's 47th anniversary cover features a dozen women who are pushing the movement forward. For the first time ever, ESSENCE honors 12 women on its cover who are blazing trails for equal rights and inclusion for Black people in America.

Using tech to uproot systemic racism

Rejecting the backlash against hashtag activism, Brittany Packnett defended the work of the armchair activists on Twitter and other social media who have brought needed attention to social justice issues.

I'm an Activist, and Joy Is My Resistance

As a woman, a person of color, and someone who has chosen to pursue both love and power in the name of justice, self-care is the fuel I need to persist. For me, self-care can consist of many things-personal pampering in the form of my weekly nail appointments, Game of Thrones marathons, or vacations.

PBS NewsHour
Why do so few deadly police shootings end in police convictions?

Why do so few trials of police officers charged in on-duty shootings end in convictions? Most recently, the officers who shot and killed Philando Castile and Sylville Smith were acquitted by juries who saw video of the fatal encounters. John Yang discusses issues of race and deadly force with David Klinger of the University of Missouri-St.

The Cut
Why White Women Must Make the Equal-Pay Fight More Inclusive

Last week, after watching two powerful black women be publicly berated by white men, it occurred to me that many unknowing Americans had just witnessed the slights that black women endure in the workplace daily and often in silence. So I asked other women like me to share their stories of being #BlackWomenAtWork.

"Race And..." Summit 2016 Mainstage

Moderator Jim Wallis President, Sojourners Featured Participants Peggy Flanagan Minnesota State Representative Taina McField Program Officer, The Nathan Cummings Foundation Brittany Packnett Teach For America M. Daniel Carroll R. Wheaton College Bryan Stevenson Equal Justice Initiative

SECON 2017 Brittany Packnett Keynote

Brittany Packnett is a protester, activist and educator who is vice president of national community alliances for Teach for America, a co-founder of Campaign Zero (a comprehensive policy proposal to reduce police violence in the US based on community and activist input, research and rigorous data), and a member of the President's 21st Century Policing Task Force.

(P1) Brittany Packnett: The causes of inequity in the USA

Brittany Packnett is the Vice President, National Community Alliances, Teach For America. Protestor and organizer in Ferguson and beyond, co-founder of We The Protestors and Campaign Zero, a comprehensive policy platform to end police violence in America.

The Cut
R. Kelly Targets Women No One Cares to Defend

Last summer, on the late singer Aaliyah's birthday, I made a stomach-churning discovery. As I cranked up her classic debut album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, I looked closely at the cover. The album's producer, Robert Sylvester Kelly, lurks in the background, watching her, far away but never out of sight.

Social justice activism takes center stage at White House's SXSL

From obtaining civil rights for black people to the freedom to marry for LGBTQ people, social justice activists have been paramount in changing our country's discriminatory ways. At the White House's South by South Lawn today, Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader and one of the organizers of the March on Washington, kicked off the "How We Make Change" panel with some words of advice.

The White House Blog @ Medium
Fear won't change the world: We will.

I couldn't agree more with Anil, one of my favorite Twitter friendships that will hopefully become a real-life one after we share space at today's South By South Lawn, the White House's turn on convening art, ideas and action for change.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Obama commends local activist Brittany Packnett during speech at Howard University

President Barack Obama gave a shout out to local activist Brittany Packnett Saturday in his commencement address at Howard University in Washington. In the 45-minute long speech, Obama urged the Class of 2016 to remain aware of injustice, unfairness and struggle as they move through their lives, and to take action to correct them.

White people: what is your plan for the Trump presidency?

My question was not a call to wage war on white people. It was me interrogating whether they were ready to join in the war against white supremacy, a system that benefits few and destroys many. Understand: White supremacy is as much about mindless habits of white privilege as it is about active beliefs. It is about impact, not simply intent.

The White House Blog @ Medium
The Most Powerful Leader I Know Is My Mother

My mother turned 60 on May 31. It was a typically celebratory occasion for our family - several of her sisters, nieces and nephews were present, along with her fiancée, my only brother, and myself.

Black Lives Matter Activist Brittany Packnett on Why She's Finally #WithHer

Less than two months ago, Brittany Packnett featured prominently in The New York Times'reporting about Hillary Clinton's continued inability to solidify black millennial voters. Packnett, 31, first came to national attention during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

We Can Live In a World Where the Police Don't Kill People

After meeting through protest, DeRay, Johnetta, Samuel and I launched Campaign Zero nearly a year ago - a comprehensive policy platform to end police violence. Each of us believes in a simple, but radical idea: that someday, we can live in a world where the police don't kill people.

Leading Educators
Champion Spotlight - Brittany Packnett

It's always a delight to celebrate members of our community who tirelessly elevate the work, particularly when that member is one of the brightest voices of the next generation of educators. Leading Educators is excited to see Brittany Packnett recognized as one of LinkedIn's Next Wave - Top Professionals 35 and Under.

The Root
Show Up on Nov. 9, Too

We have a choice to make Nov. 8. But our engagement must outlast Election Day.

the Guardian
There's no justice for Freddie Gray in the Edward Nero verdict | Brittany Packnett

I've grown to hate the phrase "community-police relations." Often, this phrase is used to describe the current public conversation about policing. But there are more accurate terms with which to describe what citizens - especially those of us of color - actually face too often at the hands of those meant to serve and protect.

the Guardian
The Freddie Gray decision signals black people are to blame for their own deaths | Brittany Packnett

Last night, I stood in a jam-packed arena as a multiracial crowd chanted "Black Lives Matter," following an on-stage appearance by Mothers of the Movement at the Democratic national convention. Irrespective of political affiliation, no one can deny the power of these women, all mothers to the fallen sons and daughters who founded this movement for black lives and human dignity.

The Huffington Post
Paving the Path to Our Children's Future

I was raised to honor my roots. I am rooted in the community of St. Louis, MO where I was reared. My home is a few miles away from Ferguson - where I work with so many exceptional partners to empower our youth through educational opportunities and have been engaging in collective activism since the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was one day away from attending college.

The Huffington Post
An Open Letter From Ferguson Protestors and Allies

The Ferguson Protester community is home to many voices and experiences. Informed by many voices, this letter serves as a statement of purpose for those who may not yet understand the movement in #Ferguson or why protests still continue, 102 days later.

Goals, Vision For New Teach For America St. Louis Director

Brittany Packnett is an alumna of Teach for America and, four months ago, started a new job as executive director of Teach For America - St. Louis. Packnett was born and raised in St. Louis and returned to the city after spending five years in Washington D.C.
A #BlackLivesMatter Leader At Teach For America

"We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!" Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe - in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.

Brittany Packnett: Fight injustice, choose solidarity

Brittany Packnett delivered a powerful keynote address at Public Allies' August 2016 National Leadership Institute, where she was presented with the Living Our Values award for her dedication to equity, social justice, and education. "Listen intently to those who have most been affected by social injustice, and there is no way that you will not...

The Huffington Post
Meet The Teach For America Official Charged With Bringing Change To Ferguson And Beyond

FERGUSON, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Tuesday announced the 16 members of the Ferguson Commission, which was established to address issues of racial and economic inequality in the St. Louis region following the shooting of Michael Brown. One of the commission's members is the top Teach For America official in St.

Brittany Packnett: It's 'critical' to listen to young voices

Teachers are typically well informed. They know how and where to track down data, they brainstorm ideas and they work with people. So when Brittany Packnett, Teach for America-St. Louis' executive director, was named to the president's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, she was in for a few surprises.