BALTIMORE, Md. — Maryland civil rights groups are proposing a lawsuit against Baltimore County if it adopts its current redistricting plan, claiming the map weakens representation for the area’s diverse population.

Civil rights groups are pushing Baltimore County to create a second majority Black council district to better represent its diverse population. (Flickr)

Ryan Coleman, president of the Randallstown chapter of the NAACP, which would join with the ACLU of Maryland in suing the county, said the African American population in the area has soared to about 30% over the past 10 years and in some districts to 50%.

Yet the potential map packs the Black vote into just one district, maintaining a white majority in the other six districts, which the U.S. Supreme Court has counseled against in the Voting Rights Act.

“The map that they have drawn will dilute the African American voting power,” Coleman contended. “And you can’t tell me that with 300,000 African Americans in an 800,000-person county that we should only get one African American on the council.”

The council will hold a public meeting on Dec. 14 for input on the plan. Then it will have a final approval vote on Dec. 20. If it decides to keep the current map, Coleman said his group and the ACLU will take legal action.

Parts of African American communities in the county are suffering from food deserts, crime, and low-performing schools.

Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, said those neighborhoods need representatives who care to bring needed change.

“We want the government to look like the county and not to maintain this system where the government, those at the top are all white, and the population is very diverse,” Jeon asserted. “We’re trying to promote representative democracy, and we think that benefits all of Baltimore County. “

Baltimore County was 60% white, about 30% Black, and 6% Hispanic in the 2020 Census. In 2010, the area was 64% white, 26% Black, and about 4% Hispanic.

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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