Durham, N.C. — The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is partnering with community organizations in six states to offer in-depth training sessions to educate community organizers on the redistricting process and potential voting rights violations following the 2020 census. Community Redistricting Organizations Working for Democracy (CROWD) Academies will equip individuals and organizations with tools to monitor and engage with redistricting processes at every level of government, spot warning signs and take action if decisions are likely to infringe on the right to an equal opportunity to participate in elections.
This will be the first local and state redistricting cycle since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 rendered Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act inapplicable. This key provision required more than a dozen states with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices to submit new districts to the federal government for approval. This redistricting cycle also follows a pivotal Court decision in 2019 that prevented federal challenges to partisan gerrymandering.
“Although the core action in the redistricting process will happen in 2021 and 2022, SCSJ is acting now to begin the training and knowledge sharing so that communities can identify discriminatory practices and become prepared to engage in crafting maps that protect voting rights,” said Dr. Kareem Crayton, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Without a key element of the Voting Rights Act, we have seen several states adopt policies that infringe on the right to vote of minority populations. CROWD Academies are an important part of the strategy for assuring a redistricting process that is of, by and for the people.”
CROWD Academies will address:
- How the redistricting process works and points of intervention
- Legal and equity considerations when drawing or analyzing districts
- How to analyze proposed voting maps and how to draw and submit your own
- Effective organizational, communications and legislative advocacy strategies for successful community interventions
Academies are designed to create a lasting infrastructure and equip an educated
and empowered community to advocate for fair redistricting plans and policies,”
said Allison Riggs, chief counsel for voting rights for the Southern Coalition
for Social Justice.
The first CROWD Academies will be held in North Carolina, where SCSJ has partnered with Blueprint NC to identify dozens of community leaders to participate. Blueprint NC is a network of 41 nonprofit, non-partisan organizations working together across issues and racial lines to advance equity and social justice in North Carolina.
CROWD Academies in Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter and Facebook.