Four black Mississippi citizens sued the state in federal court to end the racially discriminatory system of appointing governors created in 1890.
What We Know…
- Mississippi still uses standards for being elected governor created in 1890 that discriminate against black people by requiring candidates to win a majority of the popular vote in addition to a majority of the state’s House districts. If these majorities are not won, the Mississippi House decides.
- The embedded racism in this 1890 legislation lies in state zoning; black voters are concentrated in certain House districts and also constitute a majority of the voting-age population in many of these districts. This black voter concentration is not appropriately mirrored in Mississippi House representation, which is primarily white.
- District representatives in the house are not required to vote as their district citizens did. A candidate could win the majority of the popular vote but not the majority of the House vote. African American voting strength is in this way diluted by the House.
- This legislation was enacted to suppress black voters post-Reconstruction to avoid black control of the government.
- Since this legislation was enacted, Mississippi has seen no African American elected to office even though the state has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the US.
- The lawsuit filed asks that this system is prohibited in 2019 elections, requesting the state use more customary practices of counting only the popular vote.
- Some scholars don’t believe this lawsuit would effectively lead to more victories for black candidates given the racial polarization in the state.
This lawsuit seeks to correct for long-standing racial discrimination in Mississippi politics to prevent the continuation of these practices in 2020 congressional redistricting of the state.