Rachel Vitti is the wife of Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Schools, mother of four, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, niece, grand-daughter, friend, teacher, education and social justice advocate. She is a former public school teacher who served students in Winston-Salem, NC and Harlem, NY. Rachel has spent the last ten years dedicated to nurturing and educating her four children ages 4-10. Aside from focusing on their development, she has also served as an advocate for exceptional-student issues within the public school system – namely students with specific learning disabilities. She has empowered parents with information and strategies to navigate the education system and improve access to appropriate resources for their children. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wake Forest University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Salem College.
In her own words, Rachel describes why we must come out as allies in order to get the Human Rights Ordinance passed in Jacksonville:
The sobering fact is that less than 50 years ago, without the voice of allies, I would have been arrested and jailed for displaying my human right to love a man, who shares my heart, brings me to a poignant pause. Less than 50 years ago, without the voice of allies, my four bi-racial children would have been deemed to be illegitimate and would not have been given the protections and privileges afforded to the children of lawfully wedded parents.
Less than 50 years ago, allies stood to bring a voice to Mildred and Richard Loving and their three children, so they too could benefit from America’s Promise. The 1967 Supreme Court Case of Loving v. Virginia was a pivotal civil rights decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. That decision was a culmination of collaborative efforts of people around the nation.
Today, on the shoulders of those who have stood tall, and those still standing, I am coming out as a Straight Ally to expand the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance to include our LGBT families. As a mother raising four young citizens, it is essential that I exhibit a civic duty to ensure that all people can be open, honest, and safe in their home, school, work, and community, without fear. It is important to help victims of intolerance and hate, fight for their basic human rights.
Although I am a new member of this city, I expect Jacksonville to live-up to the motto of “The Bold New City of the South” and move towards full equality for everyone. To me, this matter is quite simple; afford the same justices and dignity to your neighbors for the betterment of our community. My responsibility to my community and to my family includes supporting those families that may not look like mine, worship the same as mine, or speak the same language as mine.
I challenge the greater Jacksonville community to reach out, join the coalition, and support their neighbors, regardless of race, gender, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital or familial status, pregnancy or ancestry, AND sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. In the words of Mildred Loving, “that’s what Loving, and loving are all about.”