At Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), we are proud of our work in partnership with community allies to protect voting rights and ensure diverse representation. As yesterday’s election results continue to roll in, we see encouraging signs across Massachusetts:
After nearly 200 years of electing white men as Mayor, Boston has finally broken that trend. Congratulations to Michelle Wu – the first woman and first person of color to be elected Boston’s Mayor! LCR hopes that Mayor Wu will lead the City in new directions – we have already proposed concrete ideas for how to achieve racial and immigrant justice in the City.
Meanwhile, Lowell just elected its most diverse City Council and School Committee ever – by far. Why? Because in 2017, LCR and a diverse coalition of Asian-American and Latinx plaintiffs brought a landmark Voting Rights Act lawsuit that successfully dismantled an electoral system that diluted the vote of communities of color. Yesterday, we began to see the fruits of that labor realized. In the very first election under a new district-based system, Lowell elected six people of color to City Council and School Committee – a huge change from the all-white elected bodies that existed when we filed the lawsuit.
And in Haverhill, where we demanded change to an at-large electoral system that denies equal voting opportunity to communities of color, it appears that voters have learned the lessons of Lowell (and Worcester) and approved a ballot measure to change voluntarily. In Haverhill, we will now work with City officials and community allies to ensure that a new district-based system is configured correctly to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
When elected bodies reflect the diversity of the residents they are supposed to represent, that makes government more accountable, improves decision-making, and serves as a visible reminder to the next generation that the pathways to power are truly open to all.