East Baton Rouge School Board Redistricting Special Meeting Results in Approval of Racially Gerrymandered Map

By Robert Collins for Word in Black

Baton Rouge, LA– On April 7, 2022, the East Baton Rouge (EBR) School Board met at the School Board Office for a Redistricting Special Meeting to approve a final plan that will be ratified on May 5, 2022 and to go into effect with the November 8, 2022 School Board elections. With the redistricting vote up first on the agenda for the special meeting, things quickly deteriorated as white EBR School Board members ignored recommendations from their own hand-picked demographer and chose to approve a plan that diminishes minority representation. 

The redistricting meeting, which was rescheduled due to weather, was well attended by education advocates, stakeholders, and independent redistricting experts who spent months providing input in support of a map proposed by board members Evelyn Ware-Jackson and Dawn Collins. The Ware-Jackson Collins plan would expand the number of districts and add a majority minority district. In a vote five to four, the EBR school board instead approved a racially gerrymandered plan, drafted by board member Mark Bellue. The approved plan secures outsized influence to white voters in EBR by creating six majority white seats and only three majority minority seats. 

Independent analysis by redistricting experts was provided to board members ahead of the special meeting. Testimony and comments given by the public made it clear the community wanted representation and a fair plan that honored the Voting Rights Act. Approving the plan drafted by Bellue sent a clear message that minority voices do not matter.

While the outcome of yesterday’s meeting is disappointing, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ) and partners who worked to ensure the voice of the community was heard are not deterred. PCEJ and partners are grateful for the advocates and community members who continue to stand up and speak. We stand with the people and will work to ensure that the voices of Black voters in EBR are not suppressed. 

###Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ) is dedicated to supporting and coordinating civic and voter engagement across Louisiana. We are guided by values of justice and racial equity and work with our partners to build an integrated civic engagement strategy that amplifies the voices of those who have historically been ignored, and organize them into a unified movement. PCEJ focuses on building power in traditionally marginalized communities, particularly Black and Brown communities, by equipping people with the knowledge and information they need to find their voice and learn where and when to use it.

Contact Information:

Kaitlyn Joshua, Faith-Based Organizer 

Email: kjoshua@powercoalition.org • Phone: (225) 454-8321