All 122 seats in the Mississippi House of Representatives are up for election in 2019 and there is an upcoming election for governor that could totally remake the state’s redistricting process (if someone not white and Republican wins).
Black voters in the state are not taking any chances.
Four Black residents filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi on Thursday against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn.
The lawsuit will challenge Mississippi’s racist, Jim Crow-era laws that give an obvious advantage to white candidates running for statewide office. The laws, which were established in the state’s constitution in 1890, make it so that winners of a state office have to win both a majority of the state’s popular vote and a majority of House districts too. If the candidate doesn’t win both, lawmakers get to pick a winner.
Not too surprisingly, this rule has not worked out in favor of Black politicians in Mississippi.
The lawsuit says that the state Constitution was written by white supremacists who tried to ensure that the significant Black population in Mississippi could never get a powerful political foothold in the state.
The lawsuit reads:
“This discriminatory electoral scheme achieved and continues to achieve, the framers’ goals by tying the statewide-election process to the power structure of the House. So long as white Mississippians controlled the House, they would also control the elections of statewide officials.”
Mississippi’s population is 59 percent white and around 37 percent Black – the highest percentage of any state in the country – but Mississippi’s congressional maps were drawn so racially skewed in 2011 that a federal court recently forced the state to redraw one of them.
Even with such a large Black population, they have little power in the state, especially with majority white, Republican and racist lawmakers.
in 2010 former Republican Governor Haley Barbour said he did not remember Jim Crow laws as being “that bad.”
In 2017, Republican state House member Karl Oliver wrote on Facebook that people who want to remove Confederate statues should be “lynched.”