Trial in Baton Rouge is the Culmination of a Nearly 30-Year Battle for Voting Rights for Black PeopleTrial in Baton Rouge is the Culmination of a Nearly 30-Year Battle for Voting Rights for Black People

At a time when voting rights are under attack across the country, lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund are in a Louisiana court again this week challenging the blatant disenfranchisement of Black people. This crucial yet underreported trial in federal court centers on Terrebonne Parish in south Louisiana, where the discriminatory at-large electoral system has kept a community where one-in-five people is Black from ever electing a judge of their choice. This electoral method’s discriminatory effects are manifold, and evident not just in the electoral losses of qualified Black candidates who are overwhelmingly supported by the Black community in Terrebonne, but overwhelmingly opposed by white voters in Terrebonne, but also in the victories of white judges whose behavior proves they are unfit to serve in office. This painful reality made headlines back in 2004 when the Louisiana Supreme Court disciplined a white Terrebonne judge for donning blackface, an Afro wig, a prison jumpsuit, and handcuffs for a Halloween costume at a public restaurant in Terrebonne; in 2008, this white judge was re-elected under at-large voting without opposition.

Thirteen years later, the disfranchisement of Black voters in Terrebonne Parish continues – but this racist system may be in its final days. Following at least two decades of advocacy by the Black community in Terrebonne and as the culmination of a four-year lawsuit in federal court, lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will wrap up trial in Baton Rouge this week.  

Read opening testimony from last month here.

For more information, please visit our case page here

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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. 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.

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