WHEN WE ALL VOTE: Voices in Action: Inspiring stories from our When We All Vote volunteers

Black Voices in Action ✊🏿 : Meet Rhonda Love

When We All Vote
6 min readFeb 12, 2024
[HEADSHOT] Rhonda Love, K-12 Instructional Lead, Department of Social Studies, Clayton County Public Schools

Meet Rhonda Love, the dedicated K-12 Lead Teacher for the Department of Social Studies at Clayton County Public Schools in Georgia. With over 15 years of experience, Rhonda has shaped the educational journey of thousands of students. Before diving into the world of teaching, Rhonda attended Harvard Law School, where she honed her skills in the legal field and practiced law for several years in Chicago. From the law office to the classroom, Rhonda’s diverse experiences bring a unique perspective to education. Her passion for teaching is not just a job; it’s a commitment to shaping the minds of the next generation.

What inspires you to show up and engage in voter education work?

I was raised in a family where voting and politics were a part of our core life. Growing up near Chicago, IL, I remember watching news coverage on the first Black mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, Jesse Jackson, the Rainbow Push Coalition, and the NAACP. I later attended Alabama State University, where I was a research assistant for the Dean of History and Political Science. I learned about the history of Montgomery, AL, in the civil rights movement and received a degree in Political Science, which drove my passion even further. Then, I attended Harvard Law School. As the political action chairperson of the Black Law Student Association, I helped organize a protest with Professors Cornell West and Charles Ogletree over the racism experienced there. So, I’ve always seen a direct correlation with civic engagement, voting rights, and ending discrimination. Our lives are centered around the laws that govern us.

Many of your students can’t vote, but what’s on the ballot impacts them. How do you have conversations about voting with them?

One activity we do is mock elections during our presidential and gubernatorial elections for students who can’t vote. We also have those students who aren’t old enough to vote sign a future voter pledge. Signing the pledge allows them to think about the importance of voting and invest in exercising that right in the future. So we’re already implementing certain things that help them think about voting before that time comes. We also partner with Usher’s New Look Initiative. Students create a public service announcement, “I can’t vote, but you can,” where they encourage their family and community members to vote on their behalf.

For voter education, we provide scavenger hunts, document-based questions, and student competitions to educate students about issues that directly impact them and their communities. When they see the funding that schools provide or how the heavy police presence impacts their neighborhoods, they understand how voting for change can impact their everyday lives and their communities.

“When they see the funding that schools provide or how the heavy police presence impacts their neighborhoods, they understand how voting for change can impact their everyday lives and communities.”

As a part of our My School Votes program, how do you encourage open discussion about voting and civic engagement, mainly when working within the Black community?

Seventy percent of our school district is Black. So when we talk to students and community members, we speak to a primarily Black population. We’re ensuring that they understand the different issues they are facing and what’s on the ballot. Our goal is to educate the community to make sure they know the various issues, candidates, and where they stand. We don’t give any suggestions on who and how they should vote — we focus on impact.

Also, voter suppression is still prevalent, especially in Georgia, and because of that, we have to go above and beyond to get our voices heard. Many Black Americans have fought and died for our right to vote. So emphasizing our history and the importance of voting, especially here, is our number one priority.

As a teacher, have you encountered students hesitant to use their voices? If so, what message do you share with them about the impact of their vote?

We encourage them by looking at the historical patterns in past elections, especially this last presidential election, where Georgia was a big focus, and helping them understand how important the youth vote was in electing our current president. By studying these trends and reading articles about the impact of youth voting in our elections and electoral maps, they see how voting when they are young makes a difference.

A picture of Rhonda and her students.

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

We’re all about ensuring that we teach Black History 365 days of the year, and through our core classes, we’re ensuring our students understand Black people's contributions in all subject areas. Our standards reflect various Black historical figures, achievements, and literary works throughout the school year.

Also, we provide free tickets to museums and go on various field trips throughout the year, including Juneteenth, celebrated during the summer, so that our students experience our rich culture firsthand. Incorporating these events and trips helps students learn outside the classroom and shows the school district how important these extracurricular activities are to the community.

What changes do you hope to see through your volunteer work regarding voting? How can we continue engaging young people who aren’t of voting age but want to be involved in the work of voter education, registering voters, and civic engagement as we head into the 2024 presidential election?

We must understand that even though young people under 18 can’t vote, they can talk to their parents, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles, and whoever else about getting registered and out to vote in November. When you start educating children very young, how important it is to vote becomes embedded in them.

As long as we keep putting current events and civic engagement in front of them, we can continue to engage young people.

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

That’s a great question! What I love most about us is that we fight to overcome obstacles and celebrate ourselves despite it all. Listen, we, in every way for centuries, have had so many forces against us as a people, and that still rings true today. Nevertheless, we continue to find a way to show up, support one another, enjoy life, and achieve meaningful accomplishments. If no one else celebrates us, we’re going to celebrate ourselves!

That’s why we see many other communities pattern themselves after us — with their style, ideas, and swag. They don’t want to give us credit, but we continuously fight to achieve it. We have that extra seasoning, flavor, and melanin that no one can take away from us. I believe that when you have a life that shines, no matter how much others try, you can’t be stopped.

I love being Black. It’s just the essence of who I am. It’s the struggle. It’s the fight. It’s the love. It’s the beauty. It’s the joyfulness. It’s everything to me.

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

We’re shaping the promise of our democracy through voter registration and participation. Because #WhenWeAllVote, we can change the world. WhenWeAllVote.org