GERRYMANDERING AND THE BLACK VOTE
Written By: Barry P. Foley
Copyright © 03 Nov 2022
President John F. Kennedy said, “Elections remind us not only of the rights, but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.” But even our beloved Jack Kennedy knew that in the South, not all black people were allowed to vote.
Restricting and denying the Black Vote has been and still is the goal of white supremacists since the end of slavery. In some ways, we haven’t moved the needle all that far in 160-plus years.
Nothing the far-right fears more than a heavy black voter turnout in an election. That’s why they will go to any extremes to restrict the black vote. Voter ID, reducing the number of Polling stations in poor communities, reducing the number of voting machines at a given polling station and reducing the number of days of early voting. All hidden under the disguise of protecting voter integrity.
Let’s look back a bit at how we got here. After the Civil War, former Males Slaves gained the right to vote along with all free men. More than a half million Black men joined the voting rolls during Reconstruction in the 1870s, helping to elect nearly 2,000 Black men to public office, including Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina.
Following the ratification in 1870 of the 15th Amendment, which barred states from depriving citizens the right to vote based on race, southern states began enacting measures such as poll taxes, literacy tests, all-white primaries, felony disenfranchisement laws, grandfather clauses, fraud and intimidation to keep African Americans from the polls. By 1910, registered voters among African Americans dropped to 15 percent in Virginia, and under 2 percent in both Alabama and Mississippi
With the Voting Rights Act of1965, every man or woman over the age of 21, regardless of color, could vote. Politicians knew the power of the black vote and engaged more heavily in the process of Gerrymandering. No, Gerrymandering wasn’t new, but now they had even better reasons to make it work in the Whites' favor.
Simply put, Gerrymandering is the process of carving out a voting district in such a way as to give one Political Party a grand advantage. Break up black neighborhoods so that a significant majority could never be achieved. Literally, one side of the street is in one district, and the other side of the street is in another. Gerrymandering is politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians.
Every ten years, after the census, the states can “reconfigure” their congressional districts. Several states are so bold in redistricting to dilute the black vote that they can’t even get it past their own state supreme court.
Once those districts are set for a ten-year period, they can be very effective for a given party. Yes, the Democrats have used Gerrymandering to their advantage, but they’re like kindergartners in a room full of Ivy League Scholars.
And the fact is, it will only get worse overall as the nation becomes more and more politically divided.
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