The Fight for Black Political Districts in Illinois

The Fight for Black Political Districts in Illinois

With more Blacks leaving Illinois, a group of African-American leaders is working to maintain historical seats of power for the community.

Published May 17, 2011


Redistricting is a concept many Americans don’t fully understand. It’s a complex process, and one that doesn’t involve a lot of participation from citizens, and so most people ignore it when it happens, or they never even notice when it goes on without any input from them whatsoever. Redistricting is an important process, though, especially for people often left out of the political process (read: minorities). That’s why a group of Black leaders are getting together in Illinois to make sure the state’s latest round of redistricting doesn’t hurt the African-American community.


Following every U.S. census, elected officials around the country have to rezone political districts in order to be in compliance with longstanding civil rights laws. This year, a group of 12 African-American leaders from secular nonprofits and religious groups is forming to ensure “fairness” in the redistricting process:


The group, African-Americans for Legislative Redistricting, is demanding a remap that “would protect the interests of 1.8 million African-Americans in Illinois, while proposing three minority-led “influence districts” in Springfield, Rockford and East St. Louis.”


The leaders may be stinging after former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently (handily) defeated five other candidates, all of whom were people of color, in order to win Chicago’s mayoral race. That coupled with the fact that Chicago lost nearly 200,000 Black residents between 2000 and 2010 has some Black leaders concerned that the state’s African-American political power is under fire. (Emanuel has also recently been criticized for not appointing enough Blacks to key positions.)


The coalition says its main goal is to keep the exact number of majority Black districts in the state, which is rapidly getting more and more Latino citizens. Chicago alone saw an uptick of 25,000 residents in the past decade. That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that a lot of Blacks are fleeing the city, you can see how the balance of power may be tipping.


Also notable is the Asian community, which, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, is looking to get districts of its own.


Experts theorize that before the next few decades are over, America will be a “majority minority” nation. That in mind, it would be nice to see groups of color come together to work toward collective rights rather than scrambling for power positions every 10 years.


(Photo: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


Latest in news