Heard on All Things Considered

Lawmakers and Activists Raise Concerns Over Representation in New Michigan Redistricting Maps

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Image credit: Ebony Curry

​Black people would be underrepresented and marginalized within their communities based on legislative maps that lump Detroit in with cities like Marine City and West Bloomfield, they say.

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Several Detroit lawmakers and activists expressed their frustration with some of the maps proposed by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission at a downtown news conference Tuesday.  

The redistricting commission has been working for months on the tough task of drawing new legislative districts. They must take things like partisan fairness, communities of interest and the voting rights amendment into consideration.   

The commission has put forth some state legislative maps that lump parts of Detroit into districts with cities that don’t have much in common with the city, like Marine City or West Bloomfield.  

This was a conscious effort to try and meet what they thought was the criteria and drawn these maps. We’re here to say collectively that not only is that not acceptable, but that’s not what’s supposed to be done.” —State Sen. Adam Hollier

Some Detroit-area lawmakers and activists are unhappy with some districts put forward by the commission, saying that break up much of the city.  

Reverend Wendell Anthony, the president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, says he’s unhappy that, as proposed, Black people would be marginalized and underrepresented within their communities.  

We have come too far to lose anything. We don’t want to be stacked up. We don’t want to be cracked out. We don’t want to be packed out. We don’t want to be wrapped up. We want maps that reflect who we are,” Anthony says.  

Michigan is 14% Black, with 38% of that population residing in Detroit.   

State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) says he’s concerned that too many districts include parts of Detroit, diluting the city’s political power.   

This was a conscious effort to try and meet what they thought was the criteria and drawn these maps. We’re here to say collectively that not only is that not acceptable, but that’s not what’s supposed to be done,” he says.  

Hollier says it’s fine if districts include areas outside of the city limits but including communities like West Bloomfield and Marine City don’t make a lot of sense. 

Hollier says previous attempts at GOP-biased gerrymandering have kept the percentage of minorities low as a way to deny Black people representation.  

These numbers do matter and the percentages are tight. They’ve already been tight. So to draw a 35% district or 40% district, we know the Black people are not going to win those races.”  

The maps are still up for public comment. There is a redistricting commission meeting at TCF Center in Detroit on Oct. 20, as well as meetings in Grand Rapids and Lansing over the next week.  

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Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He’s been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.

russmcnamara@wdet.org

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