Va. NAACP and latest redistricting efforts
11/8/2018, 6 a.m.
Many of us know the history of Brown v. Board of Education.
Because the actions we take today become the history of tomorrow, we want you to be familiar with Bethune-Hill v. Virginia Board of Elections. As a point of reference, this very important case is named for plaintiff Golden Bethune-Hill, an African-American woman from Newport News who was joined by 11 other plaintiffs in the case filed in federal court on Dec. 22, 2014.
As a result of this case, the federal court recently mandated that the Virginia General Assembly redraw 11 House of Delegates districts because the districts were determined to have illegally packed in too many African-American voters, thereby diluting their vote. The districts were drawn in 2011 after the 2010 Census.
Essentially, as determined by the court, Virginia legislators engaged in a classic case of gerrymandering when they drew the district lines in 2011.
As an important part of the process, the court has ruled that interested parties are able to file their versions of House of Delegates districts or maps for consideration by the special master appointed to make final recommendations to the court.
On behalf of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, members of the chapter’s Political Action Committee continued to work with attorneys and staff of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in closely following the Bethune-Hill case through the courts.
In recent months, committee members and other NAACP members, along with national NAACP Legal Department officials and Geodemographic Consultants, have been involved in developing, reviewing then finalizing the Virginia State Conference NAACP’s version of the 11 House districts.
Thanks to the hard work of many, SCSJ submitted the NAACP’s version of maps and other legal filings to the court on Nov. 2.
In the coming months, there will be a number of hearings, proceedings and opportunities for the public to testify during court proceedings about the proposed district map. The NAACP Political Action Committee members will be there to ensure that our proposed changes are given consideration.
The writer is chair of the Virginia State Conference NAACP Political Action Committee.