On May 23, 2016, in response to more than a year of advocacy by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Florissant City Council voted to approve a redistricting plan that will strengthen the ability of the city’s Black residents to elect the representatives of their choice and ensure that Florissant’s voting districts comply with the constitutional principle of “one-person, one-vote.”
“The events in Ferguson demonstrated the critical role that municipal governments play in the day-to-day lives of Black St. Louis County residents,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “Florissant’s decision to help ensure that all residents have a fair and equitable voice in their local government is encouraging.”
After the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, LDF sought to identify and address the various systemic hardships faced by Black communities in St. Louis County. LDF’s investigation revealed that Florissant’s voting districts not only violated the one-person, one-vote rule, but were also structured in such a way that it was difficult for Black voters (who make up about one-fourth of Florissant’s population) to elect their preferred candidates to the City Council. As a result, no Florissant City Council member has ever been Black. LDF worked in partnership with the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, the Mound City Bar Association, the Black Leadership Roundtable, and Clergy United to urge the Florissant City Council to ensure that its voting districts conform to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
“Florissant’s City Council oversees all aspects of the city’s governance, including law enforcement and other matters of public health and safety,” said Victorien Wu, Fried Frank Fellow at LDF. “We are pleased that, going forward, Black residents will have a greater opportunity for meaningful representation on that body.”
The City Council worked closely and cooperatively with LDF and its partner organizations throughout the redistricting process. In January 2016, the Florissant City Council created a redistricting commission and began the process of redistricting its voting districts. After receiving substantial input from LDF and its partner organizations, the commission completed its work in early May. The redistricting plan that the commission recommended was approved by the City Council. By meaningfully increasing the number of Black and Latino voters in two of the City Council’s districts, the new plan will put voters of color in those districts in a stronger position to elect their preferred candidates. LDF thanks the City Council and the members of the redistricting commission for their hard work.
“As the largest city in St. Louis County by population, Florissant is setting an example for the region,” said Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “We hope that other cities will follow suit by also looking for ways to make their local government more responsive to communities of color.”
LDF and its partner organizations will continue to work with the city to ensure that all of Florissant’s residents have a meaningful voice in local government.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and 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. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.