The local peace prize in Tacoma, Washington, was awarded Melannie Cunningham for her exemplary work promoting racial reconciliation. Last week, she visited Norwegians Worldwide as part of her trip to Norway.

2018 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate Melannie Cunningham

Melannie Cunningham and the organizers of the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize visited Norwegians Worldwide (NWW) and held talks with acting Secretary General Georg Broch last week. They also travelled with a camera crew, currently making a documentary film about and with Cunningham. Former Head of Administration for the Norwegian Holocaust Center, Broch was interviewed on camera about racial reconciliation in Norway. See photos from the visit at the bottom of this article.

Tacoma Resident Melannie Cunningham was selected as the 2018 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate for her exemplary work promoting racial reconciliation. Nominator Joanne Lisosky wrote, “Melannie is a visionary, educator, community servant and consummate peace builder.”

Cunningham uses her years of knowledge, coalition building, and strategic planning to host The People’s Gathering, an annual conference which brings together business leaders, human resource professionals, educators, and students to engage in frank conversations about race. Cunningham was inspired to encourage people to speak by a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” The People’s Gathering equips professionals with tools to use existing policy to fight cultural stereotypes, institutional racism, and discrimination in the workplace. The over 200 individuals that participate in the conference each year continue the sometime difficult conversations about race and move the issue forward in the greater Tacoma community.

Cunningham’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. As the Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement at Pacific Lutheran University, Cunningham serves as a mentor to PLU students, especially to hundreds of students of color that join the PLU community.

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize recognizes and honors Peacemakers from the Tacoma/Pierce County region, in the state of Washington. The award has its roots in Norwegian-American culture. The first Greater Tacoma Peace Prize was awarded on May 17, 2005 (Norwegian Constitution Day). It has been awarded annually since. Recipients of the Peace Prize are given a banquet in their honor, a medallion, a diploma, a unique piece of glass art honoring their accomplishments, and a trip for two to Norway to attend the festivities surrounding the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Click the photos to enlarge.