Groups Unite on Illinois Redistricting Map

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CHICAGO—The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (United Congress) has released a “unity" redistricting map that would protect African-American, Latino and Asian-American voting rights as guided by the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the Illinois Voting Rights Act, Hispanically Speaking News reports.

The proposed "Unity Map" comes as part of the 2011 redistricting process now underway, in which state legislative and congressional political districts are being redrawn to reflect the results of the 2010 Census. The slow growth in the state's population— from about 12.4 million to 12.8 million residents over the past decade, an increase of 3.3 percent growth—means that the state will lose one seat in the U.S. Congress.

Hispanics have become Illinois' largest minority group, the Census data showed, while the city of Chicago lost almost 7 percent of its residents over the past decade and the state's black population dwindled to 14.3 percent, from 14.9 percent.

Redistricting in Illinois is done through both the General Assembly and a redistricting commission. Illinois gives its lawmakers the first opportunity to draw the lines. If they fail to meet the deadline, a back-up commission is used. Illinois is one of a few states to enact a hybrid method of redistricting.

The proposed Illinois “Unity Map” includes 56 majority-minority state house and senate districts—38 state house districts and 18 senate districts—an increase of 11 such districts from 2000. These include 16 majority-African-American state house districts and 13 majority-Latino state house districts and 9 state house coalition districts. Leaders from diverse communities and 25 organizations stand together in support of this map, which increases political representation for all communities of color throughout the state.

“Today we stand together calling on the General Assembly to recognize the voting rights of communities of color throughout the state,” said Josina Morita of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations.

United Congress’ “Unity Map” is a racially equitable redistricting effort that advances the voting rights of Illinois’ communities of color.
  • African-American Districts in Chicago: While Chicago lost significant African-American population on the west and south sides of the city, this map maintains four majority-African-American state house districts on the west side and 13 majority-African-American and coalition state house districts on the south side and protects the existing 8 majority-minority state senate districts in these areas.
  • Latino Districts in Chicago: Overall, there was a net increase of one majority-Latino state house district and one state senate district in Chicago. Declining Latino populations on the north side of Chicago resulted in a loss of a majority-Latino state house and state senate district in that area. Growth on the south side provides opportunities for two additional majority-Latino state house district and one majority-Latino state senate seat on the southwest side of the city.
  • Asian-American Districts: Past redistricting has split many Asian-American communities. Chinatown was split into four state house districts in 2000. Three Asian-American influence districts are possible in the Chinatown, West Ridge and Skokie areas.
  • Statewide Minority Districts: Outside of Chicago, there is one potential majority-African American and four majority-Latino state house districts as well as an additional seven majority-minority coalition districts.
The Unity Map represents collaboration and consensus from the region’s diverse communities, and a commitment to put community-specific interests aside in an effort to protect and promote voting rights for Illinois minority communities.

“Latino communities will gain new districts across the state, but as a coalition of 49 Latino organizations, the Illinois Latino Agenda refuses to do this at the expense of African-American districts,” says Mike Rodriguez, Executive Director of Enlace Chicago in Little Village and member of the Illinois Latino Agenda, a coalition of 49 local Latino-serving nonprofit organizations.

The United Congress is a grassroots-led multiethnic human rights alliance. Their work focuses on bridging racial and religious communities to advance racial equity and human rights for all Illinoisans. Over the last year, the United Congress has worked with African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Muslim community organizations as well as statewide political reform and civil rights organizations to develop a map to ensure fair representation for communities of color in Illinois. They have held redistricting workshops and mapping trainings with over 500 leaders across the state.

This map is the first to be released by a multiracial coalition of community organizations. This map is endorsed by United Congress’ Redistricting Committee and supported by organizations including Alianza Leadership Institute, Ambassadors for Christ Church, Clergy Community to Community, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Committee for a Unified Back of the Yards, Disciples for Christ Church, Enlace Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Latino Agenda, Illinois Latino Policy Forum, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Inner City Muslim Action Network, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Interfaith Leadership Project, Lawndale Alliance, League of United Latin American Citizens, Metropolitan Area Groups for Igniting Civilization, Mothers Against Violence Everywhere, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Neighbors United, Proyecto de Accion de los Suburbios del Oeste, Resident Association of Greater Englewood, Target Area Development Corporation, The Resurrection Project, and West Town Leadership United.

To view the maps, click here.