“Race and Voting Rights in Ferguson”

Another must-read from the New York Times about the exclusion of minorities from civic power: Race and Voting Rights in Ferguson – NYTimes.com. Here are the first paragraphs of this highly significant story and as ever praise goes to the American Civil Liberties Union for doing the right thing:

For most people, Ferguson, Mo., will be remembered for one awful August afternoon, when a white police officer there shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

But that incident was only a snapshot in the town’s long and complicated racial history — a history characterized by entrenched segregation and economic inequality, as well as by familiar and systemic obstacles that have kept black residents from holding positions of political power.

Ferguson’s population is two-thirds African-American, and yet its mayor, city manager and five of its six City Council members are white. So are its police chief and all but three officers on its 53-member police force.

The school board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District is much the same: More than three-quarters of the district’s 12,000 students are black, but the seven-member board includes only one African-American.

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union sued the school board under the Voting Rights Act, arguing that the way its members are elected blocks minority voters from fully participating in the political process.

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