NAACP concerned SC redistricting will leave minorities out of opportunities

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 9:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 11:51 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina House of Representatives wrapped up its on-the-road redistricting subcommittee meetings in Orangeburg on Wednesday. The House and Senate subcommittees have been traveling around the state during the last month to bring attention to the process that will draw new legislative district lines and to hear from community members about what they would like to see.

Wednesday’s meeting in Orangeburg drew about a dozen people all advocating for different types of communities.

The mayor of Holly Hill asked the committee to keep the rural communities in mind when drawing the lines, while the local head of the NAACP spoke out against packing communities of color into a single district.

“We know that diversity in every sense of the word, creates equity and equality,” said Barbara Williams, head of the Orangeburg NAACP. “We know that as a minority group that, with the undercount and not having a fair share, that we are going to be the ones that are going to miss out on a lot of opportunity.”

Williams, and many others at the meeting, took exception to the Census Bureau population data. They believe many areas were undercounted because of issues with doing a census during a pandemic.

With the census in the books, lawmakers have an obligation to redraw the legislative maps to reflect the changes in population, ethnicity, and income – among other factors.

However, South Carolina doesn’t have any statutes dictating how the lines should be drawn.

Democratic representative from Orangeburg Gilda Cobb-Hunter says, the districts need to be re-drawn in a way that promotes competition. She says gerrymandering – or drawing district lines to achieve a certain election outcome – is an issue.

“There are districts that we are currently operating under now that are gerrymandered and that is something we should not do,” Cobb-Hunter said. “We will see whether or not the comments that we have heard at these public hearings will carry any weight or have influence over the actual lines that get redrawn.”

Cobb-Hunter says she is specifically looking at US House District 6, a seat held by Representative James Clyburn. She says that district has been drawn in a way that crams as many communities of color into a single district.

She says that dilutes the black vote in other districts.

While this was the last meeting on the road, there are still two more where lawmakers will hear public comments. Both meetings are in Columbia at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 and Oct. 4. The subcommittee is also accepting comments digitally. You can find all of the information here.

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