Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the Louisiana NAACP, Power Coalition for Equity & Justice, Progressive Social Network, Louisiana Progress, and the Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter to the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board regarding redistricting plans and compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. As explained in the letter, there is substantial evidence that a map in which less than half of the districts are comprised of a majority of Black voters will likely violate Section 2. In order to ensure that Black voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice, as required by Section 2, the coalition urges the board to ensure that at least half of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board districts are majority-Black districts.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has a broad impact on the education of the students in the system. The School Board sets budgetary, curricular, hiring, and resource priorities for the more than 40,000, overwhelmingly Black, school children in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, over half of whom are economically disadvantaged. Black students comprise 71.9% of the student body and white students comprise only 11.4%. The Black voting age population of East Baton Rouge also is larger than the white voting-age population. However, in at least the last decade, candidates preferred by Black voters have never held a majority of the seats on the School Board. Without a map in which at least half of the districts are majority-Black, Black voters will likely continue to be underrepresented on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.
The letter also includes maps that show it is possible to draw a school board map in which at least half of the districts are majority-Black, provided that the map contains at least nine single-member districts. An illustrative nine-district map in which five of the districts are majority-Black districts is presented in Appendix 1. An illustrative eleven-district map in which six of the districts are majority-Black is presented in Appendix 2. An illustrative fifteen-district map in which eight of the districts are majority-Black is presented in Appendix 3. Based on the coalition’s analysis, it is unnecessary and harmful to continue to pack Black voters into less than half of the school board districts.
Read the full letter here.
LDF has been closely monitoring the redistricting processes in Louisiana and other key states to prevent discriminatory redistricting plans and ensure that legislatures comply with their obligations under the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Read more about LDF’s redistricting work here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.