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Celebrating 75 Years of LDF
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That “inescapable network of mutuality” described by Martin Luther King, Jr. begins in our communities. Where we live shapes our lives, our interactions with others, our work life, our health, and our education. Each of us has a role to play in creating communities that are welcoming, safe, and open to all.
The process called “redistricting” will determine how our local school board, city council, state legislative and congressional districts are drawn. How can our communities participate? How can we ensure that our interests are being heard and represented by our elected officials? How can we ensure that the voting strength of our communities is not weakened? What are the important factors to consider in redistricting?
This handbook will answer these questions by laying out the importance of getting involved with the redistricting process,and providing resources and contact information.
Your participation in the 2010 Census is vital to ensuring that you have an equal voice in government and access to federal and state funding for your community.
It is important to resist the urge to embrace this oversimplified interpretation of the 2008 Presidential Election. To be sure, significant work still lies ahead. Notwithstanding the election of President Obama, the severe challenges facing African Americans remains daunting. Racial minorities in the United States continue to suffer from deplorable public schools, chronic unemployment, substandard housing and healthcare, intense residential segregation, and striking rates of over-incarceration. Clearly, discrimination has not been eliminated, as some contend; rather, it remains an integral component of complex and enduring social and political systems that promote racial inequality. One such system lies at the heart of our democracy: voting and elections.
Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, parents and community leaders have repeatedly petitioned courts throughout the country, demanding that the judiciary give life and meaning to Brown by ordering recalcitrant school districts to dismantle their racially segregated school systems.
Since 1994, the State of Mississippi has allowed juvenile offenders to be sentenced to life without parole. In Mississippi, children as young as thirteen may receive such a sentence. The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has identified 25 young men serving a sentence of life without parole in Mississippi.
Shortly after the 2010 Census, states throughout the country will redraw the lines that determine how to divide the population of each state into electoral districts—a process called redistricting. The composition of a district affects election outcomes and determines representation at the federal, state, and local levels. In most states, redistricting is carried out by members of the legislature. But on the eve of the quickly approaching 2010 redistricting cycle, voters and elected officials in a number of states across the country are considering a range of proposals that aim to alter the redistricting process. One such proposal is to create Independent Redistricting Commissions (IRCs). An IRC is a committee composed of appointed officials who assume responsibility for redistricting within a state.
Criminal justice policy in the United States has for some time now spurned rehabilitation in favor of long and often permanent terms of incarceration, manifesting an overarching belief that there is no need to address root causes of crime and that many people who have committed crimes can never be anything but “criminals.” These policies have served to isolate and remove a massive number of people, a disproportionately large percentage of whom are people of color, from their communities and from participation in civil society.
Most state and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the prison communities where they are incarcerated when drawing election district lines, despite the fact that prisoners are not integrated into those communities and are not residents there.