Black Caucus Not Happy With New Map
by: Bill Stamps, December 5, 2011 9:12:00 pm
State Representative Sylvester Turner and other Black representatives wanted to make one thing clear before talking about the redistricting map.
"This is not anti-any-other-group. This is simply saying that African Americans deserve the right for a meaningful and effective representation."
Latinos accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ growth last decade, which resulted in the state gaining four additional congressional seats.
Like other U.S. areas with a history of discrimination against minorities, Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act require the Texas Legislature to seek "pre-clearance" from a special three-judge federal court in Washington, or from the U.S. Attorney General when making changes in how elections are conducted.
Washington denied the original map drawn by the Republican-led Legislature. A federal judicial panel then drew an interim map that Hispanics appear to be happy with. But now it’s the African American coalition that feels it’s being ignored. This is Representative Turner again:
"Many of those — even those you would call our allies — are rejoicing and happy over the plan. But as we analyze it and as you look at the numbers, many African American districts, not just in Harris County, but in Dallas as well are being adversely affected."
Representative Harold Dutton of Houston says the interim map breaks up historically black communities.
"We intend to keep fighting. Because I don’t intend on my watch to have Fifth Ward go and exist, or try to coexist with some people or representatives who don’t have their interests at heart."
Alma Allen, who represents the Sunnyside area, isn’t happy with the proposed shake up in her district either.
"41 percent of the district is Hispanic. Now if we go with the present map, 44 percent of the district will be Hispanic. And so they’re completely flip-flopping and making the district Hispanic."
The legislators say this is not to pit Blacks and Hispanics against each other. Turner says African American legislators drew up their own map that gives everyone a piece of the pie.
"The map gives, for example, Hispanics what they want, the numbers that they want. It provides African Americans the protection for historical African American districts. It provides for coalition districts and I will tell you and it in large part speaks to Republicans and Democrats, we had Republican members saying, 'we like ya’lls’ maps,' so it can be done."
Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott has asked the Supreme Court to look at the interim map. In the meantime, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus says other groups have made their voices heard and its time they speak out as well.