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Civil Rights and Race Relations in America and Their Impact on the Lives of African Americans
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(New York) – With the mid-term elections behind us, the nation’s attention is now turned to redistricting which will commence in many places around the country following the release of 2010 Census data. Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) announced the launch of an important public education program -- Redrawing the Lines – to promote African American participation in the upcoming round of redistricting.
“In just a few months, the U.S. Census Bureau will release new data that will trigger the redrawing of district lines at the city, county, state and federal levels. Officials will need to redraw lines that not only comply with the one-person, one-vote principle, but also comply with the central requirements of the Voting Rights Act,” observed John Payton, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “Our nation has become an increasingly diverse one, and the voices of African Americans and other communities of color must play a central role in the redistricting process,” noted Payton.
LDF’s program aims to increase the level of African American participation in the redistricting process through the dissemination of important resource and training materials. Significant features of LDF’s program include the launch of a new website, www.redrawingthelines.org, which features concise, user-friendly materials that provide an overview of the redistricting process. The website also includes a public service video promoting the importance of participating in the redistricting process, outlines strategies for getting involved and provides access to resources related to local redistricting efforts.
“Redistricting represents one of the most important events in our democracy. It is critical that African Americans and communities of color play a central role in the redistricting process to ensure that maps are redrawn in ways that reflect the increasing diversity of our nation,” said Kristen Clarke, Co-Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group. “The Voting Rights Act plays a central role during the redistricting process. Therefore, it is important that historically under-represented communities be educated about the process to ensure that they do not have their voting strength diluted,” said Clarke.
LDF’s comprehensive program also includes a manual providing information for community members, activists, and policy makers. The manual details the legal and policy framework for redistricting, and outlines how communities can participate in the redistricting process, keep the line drawers accountable and help ensure that the voting strength of minority communities is not unjustly weakened. The manual, which was written in conjunction with the Asian American Justice Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, is available on LDF’s website at: http://naacpldf.org/publication/impact-redistricting-your-community-2010-guide-redistricting.
Redistricting will determine political representation for the decade to come. During this process, the political lines are redrawn so that each district is roughly equal in population size based on the most recent Census data. The maps that are produced must also comply with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 70 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.