African Americans and the Politics of Congressional Redistricting

Synopsis

Majority black districts are necessary to ensure the equitable representation of African Americans. These districts are under attack today by conservative scholars and a conservative United States Supreme Court. Critics of race-conscious congressional districting argue that blacks can win election from majority white districts. Factors such as continued racial segregation, the existence of racial bloc voting by whites, and lack of minority success absent race-conscious remedies, however, provide strong evidence that the case for majority black districts remains compelling. This book provides a detailed analysis of the politics of racial redistricting, a topic of particular concern in light of recent federal court cases, and is divided into two parts.

Part one examines the historical exclusion of blacks from the American political process and the politics behind congressional redistricting. Investigation of the politics behind redistricting, focusing on partisan maneuvering, assesses whose interests were being served. In particular, the book chronicles the legislative action (creation of majority black districts) in North Carolina and around the South.

Part two shifts the focus to the myriad legal battles that ensued as a result of the newly created districts in North Carolina and around the South. Majority black districts are being dismantled by the Supreme Court because of criticism of their shape and because race was considered a predominant factor in their design. Irregularly shaped majority white districts have not been accused of violating districting principles. Furthermore, the fact that blacks were not elected to national office in large numbers prior to the creation ofmajority black districts indicates the continuing need for race-conscious districting as a temporary solution to a complex problem.

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