Women’s History Month: Brittany Packnett, a Leader at the Intersection of Culture and Justice

Women’s History Month: Brittany Packnett, a Leader at the Intersection of Culture and Justice

This March, we’re offering rides to places honoring women’s contributions to our nation’s history, as well as select women-owned businesses.*

For Women’s History Month, we asked Valerie Jarret to introduce us to some women who inspire her. Brittany Packnett was first up: Brittany is an educator, organizer, writer, and speaker who has committed her life and career to justice. She currently plays many roles — all focused on freedom. Brittany serves as Teach For America’s Vice President of National Community Alliances. She’s also a Fall 2018 Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics, and among other things, is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence.

When we asked the St. Louis native about the places that made her, Brittany told us Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing and Julia Davis Library. Here’s what she had to say:

Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing

“Mary Meachum was a formerly enslaved Black woman who married a man, Rev. John Berry Meachum, who bought her freedom. Together, they established a church and school for free and enslaved Black St. Louisans. When Missouri outlawed education for Black children, the Meachums established a school on a steamboat in the Mississippi River, which was a free territory. The "Floating Freedom School" evaded Missouri law and educated Black children where and when no one else could.  Later, Mary Meachum helped enslaved Black people cross the Mississippi River into the free state of Illinois, and was arrested and jailed for her participation in the Underground Railroad. The place where she helped them cross is now a historic landmark and home to a festival every May, celebrating her bravery and courage. I often visit the Freedom Crossing when I am looking for direction, hope, and encouragement to keep fighting for justice.”

Julia Davis Library

“Growing up, my parents were very intentional about placing women heroes in front of me.  Thankfully, I didn't have to look far: St. Louis is a rich tapestry of history makers — full of women who changed the world, from Frankie Muse Freeman to Margaret Bush Wilson. Dr. Julia Davis was a life-long teacher in St. Louis Public Schools, where, among others, she taught a young Chuck Berry, who'd go on to be a pioneer of rock n' roll music.  Without Dr. Davis, Black History studies across St. Louis would have never received the rigorous attention they deserved. She created Black history exhibits for the St. Louis Public Libraries, eventually establishing a fund for the collection and preservation of Black history in our library system. Today, the Julia Davis Research Collection on African-American History and Culture includes over 3,000 volumes of literature and history essential to American history, and it is housed at the library bearing her name. I got to know Dr. Julia Davis when I was a young girl and attended her Library dedication when I was 8 years old and Dr. Davis was 101. She helped teach me the value of knowing myself, my history, and my responsibility to continue to build the legacy.”

Get $10 off* 1 ride to or from one of these places, and learn more about their contribution to women’s history. Use code: WHMSTL19

Photo courtesy of Brittany Packnett/Reginald Cunningham

*Max $10 off per ride. Limit one credit per Lyft account. Credit will not carry over for an eligible ride costing less than $10. Credit must be entered into Lyft app and used between March 7, 12:00 AM through March 31, 2019 11:59 PM. Ride must start or end at a participating location listed above. Discount does not apply to tips, cancellation fees, damage charges, or taxes. Subject to Lyft’s Terms of Service.

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