Black leaders rally in Detroit, call for fairer redistricting maps 

By: - October 12, 2021 3:15 pm

Blacks rally in Detroit, call for redistricting maps that better reflect their voting power | Ken Coleman photo

State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), along with a group of clergy, civil rights leaders and others, on Tuesday gathering in Detroit to call for better racial representation in draft maps offered by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC). 

There are currently 17 districts that are majority Black, Hollier said: two in Congress, five in the state Senate and 10 in the state House. However, he said that the MICRC maps that were initially approved do not have any majority-Black districts.

“They drew districts that are not indicative of Black communities and Detroit,” said Hollier, an African American whose district includes Detroit. “They drew the city of Detroit into [congressional] districts that Detroiters will not win, and Black people will not win because a majority of the voter base are in suburban communities particularly in primaries where Democratic races are decided.” 

On Monday, the MICRC OK’d four maps for the state’s congressional districts, three for the state House and three for the state Senate, but they are not final. The commission now will present these maps during a number of public hearings throughout October and will consider comments. 

The 13-member panel, composed of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents, was formed after a 2018 state constitutional measure passed. Prior to that, the Legislature was in charge of redistricting, with the governor signing off on maps. 

MICRC’s deadline to approve final maps is Dec. 30. The new legislative district lines will go into effect for the 2022 elections and be in effect for the next 10 years. 

Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) also attended the gathering and said it’s important that MICRC hear more voices from the Black community to produce maps that reflect Black communities. 

Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) | Ken Coleman photo

“We are losing our representation,” said Scott, an African American who represents Detroit and Highland Park, another majority-Black community.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said that it is imperative that Black communities have appropriate representation. 

“We are not about losing people,” said Anthony. “We are about extending our power.” 

Edward Woods, MICRC’s communications and outreach director, told the Advance last week that the commission will continue to listen to all voices and will take concerns into account. Woods did not respond to a call and an email today. 

Hollier stressed that there is time for the MICRC to amend the draft maps and argued it’s important that the body does.  

“We live in a state that has racially polarized voting, which means people tend to vote for people in their same race, which could mean no Black elected officials serve in the state or federal legislative bodies,” said Hollier.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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