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

Black Voices in Action ✊🏿: Meet Shavonne Hines-Foster

When We All Vote
5 min readFeb 5, 2024

Throughout Black History Month, When We All Vote is interviewing some of the people who work with us to ensure their communities are registered and ready to vote. So many of us make history every day, and we are proud to honor these voices in action. To get involved with When We All Vote, visit whenweallvote.org/takeaction.

Photo of Shavonne Hines-Foster: When We All Vote Ambassador: Hampton University

Shavonne Hines-Foster, a political science major, activist, and proud Hampton University pirate, has been actively involved with When We All Vote since 2022. Growing up, she saw the inequities between different sides of her hometown of San Francisco, which later cultivated a passion for speaking up and representing her community. With her engagement extending beyond advocacy, she actively strives to bridge the educational divide in her community. In 2022, she took a significant step by establishing the “My Voice, My Power” scholarship awarded to a San Francisco public school student who values community-based leadership within themselves.

Shavonne’s impact extends beyond her involvement with When We All Vote. At Hampton, she serves in the Student Government Association Cabinet and the Women’s Caucus. With a clear vision for the future, she plans to continue serving San Francisco, Hampton, and other communities in need.

Q: What inspires you to show up and engage in getting your community registered and ready to vote?

A: The possibility of change truly motivates me to keep doing this work. Much of my work is focused on Generation Z, giving us the power to forge a new path for ourselves and correct many issues from the past.

Q: As a When We All Vote volunteer, how do you encourage open discussion about voting and civic engagement, mainly when working within the Black community?

A: One way I do that is by having open conversations year-round. Doing this makes these topics less taboo and more real for everyone involved. Many people in the Black community feel like their voice and vote don’t have a significant impact, but when you take time to discuss the raw truth of what’s really going on, you open up safe spaces for people.

Photo of Shavonne Hines-Foster with volunteers at a voter registration event.

Q: Black History Month is a time to celebrate our rich history, culture, and achievements. Can you share a story highlighting the transformative power of voting in advancing the rights and opportunities of Black Americans that resonates with you today?

A: I don’t know if I have an exact story or moment, but I have an actual period — 2020. The world was literally up in flames, and it seemed like a time when everyone was serious about voting. The lines at the polls were long, and protesting injustices was at an all-time high. People were realizing the weight of their voices and votes, which significantly impacted me. Despite many efforts to deter people from voting, people still showed up. That was huge for me.

Q: As a current college student, have you encountered peers who are hesitant to use their voices? If so, what message do you share with them about the impact of their vote?

A: I’ve come in contact with a few of my peers who are hesitant about the impact of their vote, but this has mainly been through class discussions. A lot of HBCU campuses are trying to come up with creative ways to incentivize voting while also keeping us informed and engaged. That’s a lot of the work I do now — one thing we did for November in partnership with When We All Vote was a Holland event. A Holland is a Hampton University tradition where we throw a party, and students show up and show out. We put voter registration at the center of the Holland, and using that moment way an easy but effective way to engage, open conversation, and bring culture to voting.

Q: 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?

A: The conversation around Black history and voting needs to be a year-round topic. It is a big thing, and discussing issues as they happen is very important. I think a lot of the time in the Black community, we are filled with so much strength and resilience to the point where we brush things off. Still, we must take this time, especially heading into the presidential election, to sit down and emphasize topics and issues that matter to us and our communities.

Photo of Shavonne Hines-Foster with volunteers at a voter registration event.

Q: What changes do you hope to see through your volunteer work regarding voting, community engagement, and the empowerment of Black voices as we head into the 2024 presidential election?

A: I want to see a more direct focus geared toward HBCU campuses. I want to see more HBCU students empowered to replicate the work I’m currently doing at Hampton on other campuses. I want to see more HBCU administrators empower their students to vote. Lastly, I want to see more organizations like When We All Vote center more Gen Z and HBCU students in their work.

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

A: Our presence brings me joy. I feel like Black people show up in spaces in so many different ways, and it’s just empowering to see us not only standing in our worth but also being present in so many other lines of work and activities. There are so many people to look up to who do things that I wouldn’t have thought of doing, but the representation is there, and that’s so important.

My favorite part about being Black is everything: our hair, our clothes, our swag, our language, and our overall culture. It doesn’t get better than this!

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