Celebrating Black History Month: Rhonda Anderson

Feb. 3—EDITOR'S NOTE — In recognition of Black History Month, the MDJ is asking community leaders how they are celebrating and what the month means to them. Today we feature Rhonda Anderson, chief deputy of the Cobb County Sheriff's Office.

Chief Deputy Rhonda Anderson, second-in-command to Sheriff Craig Owens, is part of Cobb County's Black history, having joined the sheriff's office in 1983 as the county's first Black female deputy.

For Anderson, Black History Month means "to make other racial groups aware of what Black history means, and the struggles that my ancestors had to go through for me to get to this point, where I am today."

A law enforcement veteran of four decades, Anderson was honored last month with the Cobb NAACP's Living the Dream Award, presented annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"I've been a girl from Marietta, Georgia, born and raised here, so I'm proud to be a Cobb County citizen. ... I'm proud to represent my community here in Cobb County," she said.

When Anderson first joined the force in the mid-1980s, she couldn't serve warrants in certain parts of the county. Things have changed since then. Owens himself was elected as Cobb's first Black sheriff in 2020.

The next generation, Anderson said, will go on to blaze new trails.

"Now we're not the first anymore, and that's great," she said. "We want young people to grow up to be whoever they want to be."

Anderson has sought to teach her children and grandchildren about Black history.

"My children are grown, I have grandchildren, but years ago I purchased books about individual famous Black people, like Jesse Owens, MLK, different books on different leaders," Anderson said. "And then in that series of books, there's people that they don't teach in the schools a lot. And I make sure that my grandchildren at least read those so they'll know their heritage."

Anderson's grandchildren are old enough to know about their grandmother, and the barriers she broke in her own career.

"They know about me. ... The youngest is 10, so they know who their grandmother is and they're proud of it. ... I want, other than my grandchildren, to know you can do this, what I'm doing, or you can do a whole lot better. I want to be a motivation to younger people."