After the state’s redistricting commission introduced maps that only offered one majority-minority district in the City of Detroit, activists and politicians raised the alarm.
More than 100 people spoke at the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting Wednesday in Detroit — many expressing the same anxieties.
Detroit politicians and activists have criticized the commission’s proposed maps for Metro Detroit. The country’s largest Black-majority city would not have a Black-majority district under most of the proposed maps.
Most of the proposed districts involving Detroit have an African-American population below 50%. Detroit is 78% Black. Diluting the number of Democrat-leaning minorities into different districts has been a common way to create Republican-gerrymanders.
Glenda McGadney, who runs a block club in Detroit’s Russell Woods neighborhood, says fair and equitable maps are a big reason why she wanted to speak at the meeting.
“What concerns me is to make sure that people of color are going to be represented in our state and in Washington. And so therefore it’s very important how the lines are drawn,” she says.
Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch says the transparency of the process will help root out malfeasance.
“Hopefully because of sunlight being brought on to this process and concerns being raised, the legislative districts that will be modified from this commission will be more fair and more inclusive,” Kinloch says.
Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) echoes those sentiments. Now that the concerns have been raised, he is hopeful the maps will be changed to be more reflective of the country’s largest Black-majority city.
“There’s no reason to plan for if they don’t. The commission has listened everywhere in Bay City and Saginaw, and Midland, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. The commission has listened to people because these are regular people who were like, ‘Do you know who knows best about your community? You do.’ ”
Carl Hollier, a Detroit resident and the father of Sen. Hollier, says if the maps don’t change, he won’t truly be represented.
“You want them to leave it a majority Black district. We want someone who we can elect that will understand our background, our history and our legacy,” he says.
The commission is not required to create majority-minority districts, and an adviser to the commissions says the proposed maps increase statewide political fairness.
More than 100 people signed up for in-person comments. Anyone who signed up at TCF Center before 7 p.m. had a chance to address the commission.
More meetings of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission are planned for Lansing and Grand Rapids this week.