Natchez Branch NAACP attends CBC conference in search of answers on voting rights laws

Host of the CBC Policy Conference; and panelists, Attorney Carroll Rhodes and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

Joyce Arzeneaux speaking on the issue of voting rights

Host of the CBC Policy Conference; and panelists, Attorney Carroll Rhodes and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

Host of the CBC Policy Conference; and panelists,
Attorney Carroll Rhodes and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

Joyce Arzeneaux speaking on the issue of voting rights

Joyce Arzeneaux speaking on the issue of voting rights

By Joyce Arzeneaux Mathis

Jackson Advocate Contributing Writer

One of the breakout sessions during last week’s Congressional Black Caucus Mississippi Policy Conference in Tunica addressed the Supreme Court’s decision to basically delete pre-clearance from Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act until Congress could review the current formula which decides which states have to pre-clear.

The City of Natchez is a special charter and because of that

classification, municipal elections were held in 2012. Natchez began the redistricting process during the summer of 2011.

The Natchez Branch of the NAACP presented an alternate plan for redistricting to the City of Natchez. However, the City submitted a plan which kept three minority/ majority wards and three majority wards. This plan was submitted even though the NAACP had demonstrated to City officials a historical pattern of stacking and packing Black citizens into minority wards.

The three black elected officials voted against the plan submitted to the Justice Department by the City of Natchez. This was explained to the panel during the Tunica Policy Conference. The Justice Department agreed with the NAACP and issued their decision on April 30, 2012. The decision was received in Natchez on election day.

The dilemma the City of Natchez faces is where are we now? This decision was handed down before the Supreme Court struck down pre-clearance. Members of the Natchez Chapter of the NAACP have contacted the Justice Department for information but have not currently received a reply.

However, the Branch does plan to file suit and present information showing the historical 30 years of diluting black voting strength in Natchez through packing minority citizens into minority dominated wards, one of which has a 97% black voting age population.

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