Melannie Denise Cunningham: Tacoma Peace Queen

hosted by
marguerite martin


Melannie Denise Cunningham Tacoma

About This Episode

Melannie Denise Cunningham has just received the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize for her exemplary work promoting racial reconciliation. Melannie's promotion of peace in Tacoma spans decades. In the late 1980s Cunningham organized the first citywide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. In 2015 she spearheaded an effort that led to the City of Tacoma to become the first city in the United States to accept the “Hate Won’t Win” challenge. "I just want Tacoma to be woke," says Melannie. "Wake up people."

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Show Notes

On the podcast Melannie shares about her life in Tacoma, her work promoting racial reconciliation, her daily encounters with racism, and her ideas about how white people in Tacoma can do to educate themselves about racism and work to dismantle white supremacy. Melannie will be heading to Norway for the Nobel Peace Prize with her Peace Queen Talks Television Documentary and it will be aired by KBTC. You can support this trip and her work here. Marguerite and Melannie talk about a wide range of topics, but in particular what white women can do to show up for marginalized people in their daily lives. "Start educating yourself about what's going on. Do some history," says Melannie. She encourages white Tacomans to step out into spaces where they are not part of the dominant racial group. Melannie is the founder of The People's Gathering, a community conference held yearly on the PLU Campus. This years conference will be held April 2nd, 2019. In 2015 she led the effort to bring the "Hate Won't Win" challenge to the City of Tacoma, the first city in the United States to do so. Melannie is proudly from Lakewood.  She moved to Lakewood from Hawaii in 1973 and went to Lakes High School, "I'll tell you what I love about Lakewood. It is so diverse. There are people from everywhere. The roots run deep." For those who don't get to Lakewood often she recommends checking out her favorite restaurant, The Bleu Note Restaurant and Lounge. "The owners are so visionary because they have community in mind." In her professional life Melannie is the Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement at Pacific Lutheran University, she serves as a mentor to students of color at PLU.