Black History Moment: The Pleasant Grove voting rights case (2018)

by Aug 26, 2020Blog0 comments

During Black History Month 2020, I provided an example of a voting rights case that involved a Birmingham, Alabama suburb’s (Pleasant Grove) use of the “at-large” voting system to weaken the political power of its African American residents.  At-large voting was/is sometimes used by local governments, to prevent changes in political leadership that can result from (rapid) demographic shifts in population.  Six months later, I’m pleased to follow up on this subject by sharing the below news article with you:
It should have been long ago: Majority black US city elects first Black officials


From: Reginald Ready
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2020 8:03 PM
Subject: Black History Moment: The Pleasant Grove voting rights case (2018)

Good evening,
Today’s black history moment is an acknowledgement of a recent voting rights lawsuit & subsequent settlement that occurred in Pleasant Grove, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.  The issue at hand, was over Pleasant Grove’s at-large voting system that prevented its black voters from electing their candidates of choice to city council.  Since the current demographics of Pleasant Grove has a black population of nearly 60%, the city’s black residents wanted to see qualified candidates that look like them, to represent them on the city council.
Highlights & Significance of the Pleasant Grove voting rights case
* The city of Pleasant Grove has traditionally been a majority white city located just outside of Birmingham, AL.  Within the last 20 years, Pleasant Grove underwent a rapid demographic shift to become a majority black city by 2018.
* December 2018: NAACP sues the city of Pleasant Grove, Alabama, claiming that their at-large voting method of electing city council candidates, violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA)
* October 2019:  A U.S. District Court in Alabama approved a settlement that was reached between the NAACP and the city of Pleasant Grove
* Under the settlement, for the first time, registered black voters in Pleasant Grove will be able to elect candidates of their choice to city council in their August 2020 election
BHM Action Item: Visit and bookmark or now and register to vote, or to confirm your voter registration status.  Tell your friends/loved ones to do the same!
In closing, visit the below websites and/or conduct your own research to learn more about at-large voting, and the Pleasant Grove voting rights case:
Nonprofit VOTE: “The Bias of At-Large Elections – How it Works” article: “Federal lawsuit challenges small Alabama town’s at-large elections” (Dec. 13, 2018)
Video: “The majority-black city blocked from electing black officials”
NAACP LDF Press Release: “Black Voters Win Right To Elect Candidates of Their Choice as Court Approves Settlement in Pleasant Grove Voting Rights Case” (Oct. 11, 2019)
The NAACP/Pleasant Grove voting rights settlement