Brittany Packnett Cunningham’s activism started when she began leading protests against police violence in 2014, following the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Since then, she has become a crusader for social and racial justice, fighting for the dismantling of systemic racism. A co-founder of the police reform platform Campaign Zero, she has held top positions at Teach For America and served as a congressional policy advisor. She is also the founder of Love & Power Works, a full-service social impact firm that focuses on ensuring justice and equity in all sectors.
From the “Ferguson Frontline” in protest of the police killing of Michael Brown to Congress, Cori Bush epitomizes the ethos of “power to the people.” A registered nurse, single mother, community activist, ordained pastor, and organizer, she’s been very clear about the challenges facing her constituency and other Americans. In 2020, Bush shook up the political status quo by becoming the first woman to represent Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, defeating incumbent Lacy Clay and disrupting his family’s 52-year hold on the seat. Remaining true to her activist roots, Bush, a member of “The Squad”—a powerful group of progressive Democratic lawmakers—has championed defunding the police, reforming the criminal justice system, raising the minimum wage, and increasing affordable housing.
For more than three decades and counting, Ford has helped lead efforts to reduce youth and community violence through innovative programming empowering young people to seek peace over destruction. Working with iconic rapper Tupac Shakur, she tackled police brutality and other societal ills. Having been appointed to former President Obama’s task force to reduce gun violence in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, as well as serving on the New York City Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, Ford is without question one of the foremost thought leaders on fostering unity. In 2002, she founded Love Ignites Freedom Through Education (LIFE) Camp. At its South Jamaica, Queens, headquarters, she teaches kids and adults how to cope with their feelings to prevent or heal from arms-related violence. Ford and her team also drive a peace mobile throughout the neighborhood to offer these therapeutic services.
Serving as the first chief of police for the new City of South Fulton, formerly part of Atlanta, Keith Meadows is distinguishing himself as a strong supporter of the principles championed by former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, intended to enhance public safety and confidence. Putting his 30 years of law enforcement experience to use, Meadows is an advocate of developing strong community relationships and absolute transparency. Using the 21st Century Policing model established by the 2015 task force, he has let technology help guide his leadership priorities. Reports signaling significant crime dips in both 2020 and 2021—when so many others are experiencing crime spikes—indicate that the police chief’s approach has been highly effective.
Social media can be a land mine for negativity, toxicity, and hate, but it can also be a powerful tool for change. Perhaps no one has harnessed this weapon better than Shaun King. With an astounding following of more than 7 million from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the activist uses his massive platform to amplify the stories of Black men and women brutalized, and tragically killed, by the criminal justice system. He was listed by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in the world online. Now he’s trying to shake up the criminal justice system by getting more progressive Black lawyers into key positions to fight structural racism, abuse of power, and mass incarceration.