Nicole Love Hendrickson made Georgia history last year, becoming the first Black woman elected chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.But under a bill that a Republican legislator has pledged to advance in the Georgia General Assembly early next year, Hendrickson would be stripped of most of her voting powers and the board reconfigured after Democrats of color occupied all five seats this year in a county that had once been a Republican stronghold.“The optics are just very obvious,” Hendrickson told CNN. “It’s a perception that there’s a loss of control for Republicans, and we have people of color who are assuming leadership roles and now you are trying to take that power away.”
The expected legislative battle over the future of Gwinnett’s county board is just one of the fights flaring up at the local level as officials redraw electoral maps and work at cementing political power, following the 2020 Census. Voting rights activists are sounding alarms about what they say is a broad effort to dilute the voting strength of people of color and sideline the Black elected officials across the South who have made inroads into local government in recent decades.
In Galveston County, Texas, for instance, a map recently approved by the Republican-controlled county board is expected to squeeze out the county’s only Black commissioner. In Lee County, North Carolina, a new map adopted by a 4-3 vote of the county commission reduced the number of minority voters in the county’s only majority-minority district. If it stands, it could lead to the ouster of the county’s sole Black commissioner, after more than three decades in office.
These moves, along with redistricting efforts at the state legislative level, represent “an all-out assault on Black political power,” said Allison Riggs, co-executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is working on voting rights and redistricting issues. “We are backsliding terribly.”They also illustrate the real-life consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 to gut the so-called preclearance provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of discrimination to first obtain the permission of the federal government or the courts before enacting new laws related to voting. This is the first legislative redistricting cycle since the high court hobbled the key provision of the nation’s premier voting rights law.
Activists like Riggs say there are more efforts to limit Black political representation at the local level than voting rights advocates and Justice Department lawyers can monitor and confront. The high court, Riggs said, “threw out the umbrella that was keeping us dry in a rainstorm, and we’re getting drenched.”
Oh, I’m sure Roberts now sees the error of his ways and the conservatives on the Supreme Court will totally object to the South recreating Jim Crow levels of white power……..