Senate Black Caucus Members Rip House Black Caucus Members Over Redistricting Vote

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the current edition of the Richmond Free Press, there's an article entitled, "Congressman Scott's district safe, but he continues to push for fair representation." As I read it, I was amazed at the level of heat, vitriol, division, even anger, between the House and Senate black caucuses. Here's a sampling:
In a surprise move, six members of the Legislative Black Caucus broke ranks with Rep. Scott and fellow Democrats to support the House plan as the best option.Hampton Sen. Mamie Locke, the Caucus chair, blasted those members in a strongly worded statement.
"Well over 300 years ago, slave owner William 'Willie' Lynch devised a plan through which he assured Virginia slave owners that if they adopted his practices, slaves/black people could be controlled for centuries," Sen. Locke declared after the House vote.
"It seems that this prediction is alive and well in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in 2012," she continued.
Norfolk Delegate Kenneth C. Alexander, former Caucus chairman and one of the six, called that criticism "over the top" and unwarranted. Among the 21 Democrats who voted against the House plan were seven members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Among them was Richmond Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, who passionately argued against the plan on the House floor. On Monday, she told the
Free Press that she opposed the plan because "it packs too many African-Americans into the 3rd District, diluting their voting strength in the other congressional districts."
The full House vote is here. As you can see, the black caucus was deeply split, even within the House, let alone between the House and Senate.With regard to the Senate, the Free Press notes Sen. McEachin and three other black senators, L. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth. Henry L. Marsh III of Richmond and Yvonne B. Miller of Norfolk, are committed to opposing the House plan." I asked Del. McEachin for further comment, and I received the following statement: