Voices in Action: Inspiring stories from our When We All Vote volunteers.

Black Voices in Action ✊🏿: Meet Jonathan Kirkland

When We All Vote
5 min readFeb 23, 2024
A headshot of Jonathan Kirkland, Head of Marketing & Brand, BLK

Meet Jonathan Kirkland, Head of Marketing & Brand at BLK, a dating app built for Black singles to find meaningful connections. Leading BLK’s growth, he formulates the brand’s vision, emphasizing community building and diverse expressions of Black love and life. With expertise in content strategy, digital marketing, partnerships, and more, Jonathan’s efforts have elevated BLK’s presence.

What does our vote, our power, mean to you?

Our power is in our vote, and we have to use that power, or we won’t be able to change the issues that matter the most. We have a part to play in that and a responsibility to do that. To whom much is given, much is expected — and the right to vote is what our ancestors worked tirelessly for. So, the expectation is that we use it, vote, and make changes we want to see.

What inspires you to show up and engage in getting our communities registered and ready to vote?

What inspired me lately is that at BLK, we’re in a unique place where we can get creative in our messaging and innovative in our execution with how we get people together. Our audience is young, and we know many of them are not as civically engaged as we would want them to be. So, finding fun ways to get them to take action is crucial to me. We have to meet them where they are to see real change.

As a partner of When We All Vote, how do you connect the historical struggles of the civil rights movement with today to encourage voter registration and turnout in the communities you serve through your work?

About 80 percent of our audience is under 35. Gen Z and younger millennials might think they are far removed from the Civil Rights Movement, even though we all know it wasn’t that long ago. We must remind them that it’s not. Because in my mind, Black history is a thing at work. It’s a working project, it’s a working process, it’s a working life. Black history is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, we must keep honing in on that and continue spreading that message to our young voters.

“Black History is every day. It’s not about picking a moment or a calendar date. It’s really about celebrating who we are and how we can progress all year round.”

How do you encourage open discussion about the importance of voting and civic engagement, mainly when working within the Black community?

We’ve seen success in having these conversations simply by meeting people where they are. You can’t preach or talk down to the people you are trying to rally. For example, with the Georgia runoff elections a couple of years ago, we sent push notifications that said, “Get your butt out and vote,” and used the Georgia peach emoji within the messaging. Simple but effective.

BLK is a local app that allows users to connect with people in close proximity to them. This year, one thing that’s important to us is local and state elections. These elections impact our users daily — gas prices, county state tax, school districts, and more. So, our goal is to find ways to infuse this information into real-life conversations on a micro level.

What message do you have for the Black youth voters ahead of this upcoming election?

I want to keep stressing that it’s about the issues. Candidates come and go, but policies, laws, and bills are more challenging to change once implemented. It’s really about how we help the youth get the correct information about the things that spark their interest and directly affect their lives.

At BLK, we’ll be doing surveys to determine what issues our users are most concerned about and then create assets within the app that people can put on their profiles to connect with other users concerned about the same issues. People can connect based on their passions since it’s all about connection and meaningful conversations. From that, we hope education will happen; from that, we hope action will happen by going to the polls. We will use anything we can in our resource bank, and policy will be at the forefront of how we do that.

“The uniqueness of our existence is exemplary — it’s like no other.”

Black History Month often opens discussions around the ongoing challenges that Black people have faced and continue to face today. In what ways can we continue these conversations beyond February?

Black History isn’t just one month. Black History is every day. It’s not about picking a moment or a calendar date. I don’t even like to use the word history because it’s continuous. It’s really about celebrating who we are and how we can progress all year round. So, for me, Black History Month is amazing. But to me, it’s just blackness all the time.

What about our community brings you joy? And what is your favorite part about being Black?

My favorite part of our community that brings me joy is the opportunity to be in it. Like Beyonce said, “We walk a certain way, we talk a certain way, we love a certain way.” The uniqueness of our existence is exemplary — it’s like no other. I’ve never seen two Black people, even twins, that are the same. And that beauty in our individuality makes us a wonderful collective.

And to answer that second question — I love being Black. I don’t know what else to be. The support you see in the Black community, family structures, neighborhoods, cities, and the collegiate community always feels like home. The collective bond that we have as Black people is unmatched — and if you’re not a part of it, you wouldn’t understand.

Are there any last words you’d like to leave with us with?

Nope, just Happy Black History Year! 😂

There are no off years in democracy, so join us as we stand up for voting rights. You can get started today by registering to vote (weall.vote/register), texting three friends (weall.vote/check), or by taking action (weall.vote/take-action).



When We All Vote

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