Black ExperienceNational

Mississippi Voters Sue Over Racist Laws that Suppress Black Candidates

With all 122 seats in the Mississippi House of Representative up for election this year, as well as a gubernatorial race that could result in the total redrawing of the redistricting process, Black voters in the state are not taking any chances.

Four Black residents recently filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn that challenge the state’s racist Jim Crow-era laws.

The laws, established in 1890 in the state’s constitution, make it so that winners of a state office have to win both a majority of the state’s popular vote and a majority of House districts too. If the candidate doesn’t win both, lawmakers get to pick a winner.

While this rule has not worked out in favor of Black politicians in Mississippi, the lawsuit reads that the state Constitution was written by white supremacists who tried to ensure that the significant Black population in Mississippi could never get a powerful political foothold in the state.

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