Less than a year after releasing The Color of Representation (a comprehensive review of minority representation in Illinois), the Voting Rights Project (VRP) has had its first success in improving local minority representation in Greater Chicago. On Tuesday night, February 9, the Blue Island City Council voted to adopt a new redistricting plan that includes three majority black wards and one majority Latino ward (out of a total of seven wards). This is an increase of one Latino and one black majority ward, and means that people of color will be able to elect their candidates of choice to a majority of the City Council in the coming years.
The vote to adopt a new plan came after months of public hearings that were instituted in response to a pre-litigation letter sent by the VRP with the expert assistance of Jeff Cummings and Judd Miner of Miner, Barnhill & Galland and Jorge Sanchez of MALDEF. The VRP worked with local activists from CASA Blue Island and the NAACP Far South Suburban Branch to bring dozens of community members to hearings to testify about what they want their community's democracy to look like. The work does not end here though. The VRP is continuing to help to build the power in under-represented, minority and low-income communities, starting February 10, by teaching Rock the Vote's Democracy Class to seniors at Eisenhower High School, where hundreds of 17 and 18 year olds are expected to register to vote for the first time in 2016.
If you would like to sign up to offer pro bono legal assistance on cases to improve minority representation, please email Ruth Greenwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.