Alabama’s Gerrymandering Saga: A Victory Lap for Black Representation

After two failed attempts by Alabama’s GOP-controlled state legislature to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries, a special master team has finally stepped in, bringing justice to the drawing board. This is the underdog story of Black Alabama voters gaining ground against political suppression.

Here’s the tea: On two separate occasions, a trio of judges found the Republican-drawn maps to be downright unconstitutional, calling them out for what they were: a racist game of Tetris. In both these instances, the courts ordered a redo. However, as with most stubborn stains, these maps refused to wash out easily.

Instead of adhering to the court’s recommendations, GOP lawmakers played devious cartographic games, effectively sidelining Black voters yet again. The court, clearly not having it, called upon the special master’s team, which includes cartographers, to redraw these contentious boundaries and ensure representation that reflects the state’s true diversity.

The outcome? A brand-new map that will roll out in the 2024 congressional elections, amplifying the voices of Black voters who, despite comprising approximately 27% of Alabama’s total population, had been stifled under the previous design. And here’s the kicker: not only does this bolstered representation benefit Black Alabamians, but it’s also likely to give Democrats a fighting chance in 2024’s congressional tussle, given the House of Representatives’ existing razor-thin margin.

While the special master team was hard at work, neither the original plaintiffs, who called out the biased map nor the Alabama officials, who were stuck on their flawed version, were allowed to chime in. The bill? The state of Alabama’s to foot, naturally.

Although three districts remained untouched, two saw minor tweaks, and the other two – which are home to the majority of the state’s Black residents – underwent significant changes to ensure they aligned with the court’s mandate.

Celebrating this watershed moment, Deuel Ross, a racial justice attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, took to social media, exclaiming that, come 2024, Black voters will have a groundbreaking chance to elect not one, but two members of Congress for the very first time in Alabama’s history.

As we toast this triumph, let’s remember the importance of drawing lines that reflect our democracy’s true colors. Today, in Alabama, justice hasn’t just been served; it’s been mapped out.