Toward the end of his life, Melvin Stackhouse, 33, exuded passion for nonviolence and unity as a member of the burgeoning No Slide Zone movement. For nearly a year, he and other volunteers made the rounds at events where he connected with other activists and community members committed to stopping the killings of young men and women.
As Stackhouse’s mother, Cynthia Stackhouse explained, her son’s propensity for helping others mirrored acts of kindness he often showed her and other family members. And while she acknowledged knowing about No Slide Zone, she said she didn’t grasp the impact of his advocacy until his funeral on March 2 when people of various backgrounds came to pay their respects.
“I was really proud of Melvin. He was an activist and the person who would help you as best as he could and as long as it would take,” she said. “He would help you get there through the good and bad. That was him – his volunteerism and preaching about getting guns off the streets.”
Stackhouse, a Ward 7 resident and alumnus of Eastern High School, died Feb. 18. The cause of death has not been announced.
For months, Stackhouse traveled throughout the District as an ambassador for No Slide Zone, a movement to end gun violence by addressing youth apathy and expanding spheres of influence throughout all eight wards. At the time of his death, No Slide Zone had at least 50 committed volunteers and nearly 1,000 people in the D.C. metropolitan area signed on as supporters.
After connecting with fellow community organizers, Stackhouse often attended their events and explored the potential for collaboration. Other activities included canvassing local stores and landmarks to pass out literature about the No Slide Zone Street Commandments, holding anti-violence signage near monuments, working on No Slide Zone’s social media team, attending community marches and supporting others’ endeavors.
Last fall, Stackhouse assisted Howard University students during the Blackburn Takeover, at times providing security near the tents where female students slept overnight. Stackhouse’s mother said his actions garnered him recognition by members of the New Black Panther Party.
Weeks before the Blackburn Takeover, Stackhouse and other No Slide Zone members participated in a peace walk in the Brightwood community. The peace walk took place several days after Stackhouse’s cousin, Johnny Joyner, and two others, died in a shooting on Longfellow Street in Northwest.
At the event, Stackhouse called for all government agencies and residents to collaboratively prevent future incidents. He also questioned how the community could best help young people reeling from low self-esteem and trauma.
Gelinda Allen, who Stackhouse often called his CEO, recounted his fearlessness in engaging people in conversation, oftentimes while wearing his No Slide Zone shirt and hat.
“Melvin had a level of dedication and commitment to go out and talk to people,” said Allen, a rollout and engagement manager with No Slide Zone.
“We had other volunteers but not everyone could commit the time that Melvin committed. He would take the initiative during his free time and do that needed outreach. That was inspiring for me. That was something we needed and I was so appreciative of him doing it,” Allen said.
Stackhouse’s fervor for eliminating gun violence sparked in the aftermath of Makiyah Wilson’s murder in 2018. Years later, as a No Slide Zone volunteer, he would attend peace walks with affiliates of the Makiyah Wilson Foundation and speak to young people at the foundation’s events.
Tynika Jackson, the community outreach coordinator for the Makiyah Wilson Foundation, recounted attending the peace walk along Longfellow and Kennedy streets with Stackhouse. She also reflected on the conversations she had with him, particularly as they related to giving young people more outlets and allowing them to speak their minds.
Jackson, 30, said she considered Stackhouse a mentor because of his ability to connect with young people which he recently did during the Christmas holiday at a youth event the Makiyah Wilson Foundation hosted in Georgetown.
“The youth really loved Melvin and loved that he was open. He would talk about what they went through,” Jackson said. “They would listen and collect the things he said and get an idea about how to go about different situations. Melvin’s legacy is pushing the stop-the-violence movement throughout the city. He was definitely a great person I could connect to [because] he was willing to help.”