View as Webpage.............Guest Commentary / June Breakfast Notice.............May 29, 2021

We all recognize that Illinois has lost population and that the reduced count has resulted in one less congressional district. That notwithstanding, the black population from a percentage of the total Illinois population has not changed, therefor within the state, redistricting should not have an adverse impact on our representation in state representative and senatorial districts.

Please see the update and guest commentary below.

COAL Board of Directors  

"The time to work seriously and collectively, to improve the state of our Community, is upon us..."
Let's Continue the Work
Happy Memorial Day
Remember and Honor
A celebration and burial of dead soldiers held by African-Americans on May 1, 1865 on a South Carolina burial ground was the first recorded Memorial Day, according to Yale University history professor David Blight. Blight says many Union soldiers were buried improperly in a burial ground that once was a race track. After the Civil War ended, many blacks returned to the grounds to give the fallen soldiers proper burials. “Blacks, many of them recently freed slaves, buried the soldiers properly. They put up a fence around the area and painted it. More than 260 were buried there. We don’t know the names. We don’t know the race,” Blight told

Honorable Mattie Hunter, State Senator - 3rd District

A Progress Report and Conversation on Black Caucus' Four Strategic Pillars: Legislation/Actions that will put Illinois on a course for
racial and economic equity.

Saturday, June 5, 2021
9:00am - Join/Reception, 9:30am - Program
via Zoom
Note: On Friday, the Illinois House and Senate Redistricting Committees passed the revised map out of committee, HB2777SFA1 passed the House and Senate and now awaits the governor's signature - this map is addressed in the following commentary.
  • The first draft of the map was released on Friday, May 21. A revision was made public on Thursday, May 27. To view the proposed map, click here.
Lawmakers also adopted new Supreme Court maps, SB642 - HFA2, and Cook County Board of Review maps, SB2661 - HFA1, on partisan votes. These bills will also go to the Governor for signature. 
Ryan Tolley
Policy Director | CHANGE Illinois
Revised Legislative Proposals Continue to Dilute the Black Vote
Good morning, everyone. I want to say thank you for your ongoing support throughout this entire process. When we started, I sounded the alarm, saying that Black people had more to lose in the redistricting process than any other group, given population loss in some of our districts. It turns out that I was right.  

The Map that Dilutes the Black Vote was passed in the House and Senate yesterday, and awaits the Governor's signature. During yesterday's House Redistricting Committee hearing, we learned from Redistricting Chairwoman Elizabeth Hernandez that the Legislature restored at least 4 historically Black districts that lost population to their historical majority Black status. They refused to do that for Representative District 9, Representative District 10 and Senate District 5. These districts include Black communities like North Lawndale, East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park. 

We have been asking the Redistricting Committee to restore these districts to their historic majority Black status since we started participating in the redistricting hearings in March. We shared data that showed demographic shifts in the districts over the last 10 years. We also shared maps and data indicating that, in spite of population shifts, these districts could be restored to their historically majority Black status using a deviation of 4%. That is, creating a district that is 4% smaller than the remaining districts. This smaller district would have the same power and privileges as every other district in the state. This practice is permissible under the Voting Rights Act of 1964, to ensure that minorities can elect a candidate of choice.

The State Legislature hired a consultant to testify at the May 25th hearing. He seemed to suggest that we don't need majority Black districts for Blacks to elect candidates of choice. He used Barack Obama as an example. As I have repeatedly explained to the Legislature, I don't think we should take that chance. These districts include some of the state's poorest communities on the west end, with some of the state's wealthiest communities on the east end. They are undergoing rapid demographic change on the east end. Over time, Black candidates from the poorest communities would be extremely challenged competing with more well resourced candidates from the central and eastern sections of the district.

The Legislature went on to draw a map that had 15 majority Black districts. Ten years ago, the Legislature drew 16 majority Black districts. This is a reduction of one majority Black district from 10 years ago. This action is justified by some by the fact that "Blacks have lost population.". The truth of the matter is, the group that lost the greatest population in the state is white people, with a loss of over 500,000 people. In spite of the fact that we have lost population over the past 10 years, the Black percentage of the state's population has not changed. We were 14% of the state's population in 2011 and we are 14% of the state's population today. Why did we lose a majority Black district?

The UCCRO Unity Map, into which Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting provided input, provides the data and boundaries to show that it is possible to draw 19 Black state representative districts and 9 Black senate districts, within the parameters of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011. We shared our map and data with the Legislature as part of the public comment process, within the deadlines they gave us. It was apparent during the hearings that no one from the Legislature even reviewed our maps or data. In fact, judging from the comments made during the hearings, none of them had even seen the maps.  

The Map that Dilutes Black Votes was passed in the House and Senate yesterday. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign it into law this weekend.  

I thought you might find this excerpt from an article from the Public Mapping Project to be of interest. [see excerpt below]

From where I'm sitting, the State Legislature has clearly put politics ahead of Black Voting Rights in the development of this map.

Valerie F. Leonard 
Founder, Nonprofit Utopia
Convener of the Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting
Phone: 773-571-3886
When Must a Minority Opportunity District Be Drawn?

The ideal district has just the right percentage of minorities to elect a minority candidate of choice. The percentage of minorities cannot be too low, lest cracking occurs, and cannot be too high, lest packing occurs. Determining the legally acceptable minority percentage requires the following steps:

First, perform a statistical analysis of election results to determine the degree of racially polarized voting.

Second, draw a district with enough minority population to elect a minority candidate of choice, given the statistical analysis.

The Supreme Court ruled in Bartlett v Strickland that in order for a district to be constitutionally required, minorities must constitute at least 50% of a minority opportunity district's voting-age population. Some have further interpreted this to mean that minorities must constitute at least 50% citizen voting-age population of a minority opportunity district. 

Although to have a claim, plaintiffs must show that they can draw a 50% minority voting-age population district, a court may order the creation of a new district that does not have a population greater than 50% of the voting age population, 

There are two important sections of the Voting Rights Act that apply to the creation of minority opportunity districts, Section 2 and Section 5.

Section 2
Section 2 applies nationally. Essentially, Section 2 requires that if there is racially polarized voting and if a minority opportunity district can be drawn, then it must be drawn. (There is a further consideration, known as the "totality of the circumstances," which involves the history of past discrimination in the jurisdiction in question.)

Section 5
Section 5 is no longer functionally operative following the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby County v Holder ruling. 

Section 5 used to apply only to "covered jurisdictions." Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act defined the covered jurisdictions as those that had a past history of using discriminatory voting laws and had low turnout in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 presidential elections. In Shelby County, the Supreme Court essentially said that there was no rational basis for these historical elections to govern which jurisdictions should be covered today, and invalidated the Section 4 coverage formula.

When Section 5 was operative, covered jurisdictions had to clear any electoral change -- from moving a polling place to redistricting -- with the Department of Justice or the District Court of DC before it can take effect. (The Department of Justice was the overwhelming pathway of choice.) This federal oversight was intended to ensure that a change does not have a discriminatory effect. In the context of redistricting, Section 5 required that the number of minority opportunity districts cannot decrease during redistricting. This is called retrogression.

Section 5 could be reinvigorated if the federal government adopts a new Section 4 coverage formula. Some states, such as California and Florida, have adopted amendments to their state constitutions that have language similar in nature to Section 5, and thus require similar protections for districts in their states that used to exist in federal law.

What Is Required in Practice?

In practice, Section 2 essentially requires that at least the same number of minority opportunity districts in a previous redistricting plan must be drawn in a new redistricting plan. There are two exceptions:

In areas where minority populations have grown, such as Latino communities in Texas, more minority opportunity districts may be required under Section 2. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is permissible for states and localities to draw such districts to avoid litigation.

In areas where minority populations have decreased, it may be impossible to draw a minority opportunity district. In this case, a minority opportunity district may not be required.

How and where minority opportunity districts must be drawn will not become clear until racial polarization analyses are conducted, districts are draw, and in certain circumstances, the courts review the evidence.

It is beyond the capabilities of most ordinary citizens -- and sometimes even redistricting authorities! -- to comply with all the intricacies of the Voting Rights Act. To provide clues as to whether or not your districts are in compliance, on the statistics sidebar on the righthand side of the DistrictBuilder plan editor, we typically report the number of districts with more than 50% minority voting-age population (VAP) in the plan used for the previous decade and the number of such districts in the plan you are drawing. Typically, you should have at least the same number in your plan as in the previous plan.

When Is There Too Much Consideration of Race or Ethnicity?

If a state or locality draws a district while considering race or ethnicity, then the jurisdiction must abide by the equal protection considerations of the 14th Amendment. The state or locality must provide a rational basis for drawing the district at its percentage of minority voting-age population. This typically involves an analysis of racial and ethnic voting patterns within the area a district is drawn in order to determine what percentage of minority population is needed to elect a candidate of their choice. 

One size does not fit all, as patterns of racial and ethnic voting, and the willingness of white voters to support the minority candidate of choice, may vary. In the past decade, courts invalidated plans in states like Alabama, Texas, and Virginia for adding more minorities than needed to elect their candidate of choice. That is not to say that a district can't have more minorities than needed to elect a candidate of their choice. However, the reason for doing so has to be some basis other than race or ethnicity, such as following local county or locality boundaries.
About COAL
COAL is an umbrella organization founded by 13 of Chicago's historic African American mens clubs. COAL's overarching mission is to identify, examine, illuminate and find resolution to issues impacting the greater community. We strive to use our collective experience, expertise and resources to improve the quality of opportunity, quality of preparedness and the quality of outcomes (expressed as 'quality of life') for our Community. 
Founding Member Organizations
100 Black Men Of Chicago ■ Chicago Assembly ■ Chicago Connection ■ Druids Club ■ Frogs Club ■ Lunch Bunch ■ New Committee ■ Original 40 Club Of Chicago ■ Rat Pack ■ Royal Coterie Of Snakes ■ Saints ■ Sigma Pi Phi Beta-Boule ■ UIC Male Forum (now Chicago Good Health Group)
 What We Believe
The Coalition of African American Leaders believes that it is important to examine the critical issues confronting the African American community where injustice, inequality and the absence of access and opportunity continue to prevail, thereby negatively impacting us as a people. COAL is an assemblage that advocates and organizes for appropriate and responsible public policy change, system behavior change and equality of opportunity. We aim to achieve for all of our people the fullness of the life experience without any form of racism or exclusion as a deterrent. We believe we must prepare ourselves for the opportunity of this full participation, thereby achieving the necessary education and training to participate.