Florida Legislative Black Caucus rebuffs newly approved congressional map

The new map awaits the governor's signature
Posted at 2:16 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 18:59:10-04

Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus held a discussion Friday about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional map approved by the Florida Legislature. The group denounces the new map, claiming it will diminish the state’s Black representation in the U.S. House.

“People in Florida need to wake up,” said Rep. Marie Woodson. “Everyone needs to wake up to see what's going on in Tallahassee.”

The discussion comes a day after Democratic lawmakers in the Florida House halted debate on the new congressional map by staging a sit-in.

Anika Omphroy
Rep. Anika Omphroy - (D) FL District 95

“Yesterday was the catalyst of us coming together realizing that we had to stand together for this moment,” said Rep. Anika Omphroy.

During Friday's discussion, various members of the Black Caucus voiced concerns about the map and the affect its redistricting will have in the future.

“As we look at these maps, the way that those districts are being redrawn, they are very strategic,” said Sen. Rosalind Osgood. “My new senate district now has 10,000 less black people. If that continues to happen, as a minority, you’re going to be at an economic disadvantage running in that seat.”

Dotie Joseph
Rep. Dotie Joseph - (D) FL District 108

Their frustrations are centered around the new boundaries drawn by DeSantis and swiftly passed by GOP lawmakers.

“Yesterday's vote was an extreme executive overreach by the governor usurping the legislature's constitutional duty to draw fair districts,” said Rep. Dotie Joseph.

Watch Florida Legislative Black Caucus discussion

Meanwhile, voter rights groups have filed a complaint challenging Florida’s new congressional map, arguing that it was not drawn in compliance with the governing laws surrounding redistricting in Florida presently.

Read copy of complaint

Now, the lawmakers are urging the community to vote and said they will work to increase minority voter registration as the first step in what they call the governor's agenda to suppress their voices.

“For the Black community, the right to vote is precious,” said Dwight Bullard of Florida Rising. “It's precious because we didn't always have the right, and we have to be mindful that it took legislation to get our right to vote.”

Dwight Bullard
Dwight Bullard, political senior advisor of Florida Rising.

The right to vote gave Dan Calloway a voice during the dark days of America's history. He remembers growing up in segregated Riviera Beach. He says the steps towards equality were made possible by the power to vote.

“It was terrible,” Calloway said. “Because 90% of us were denied the right to vote.”

Worries are now surfacing about whether the new congressional boundaries create another barrier for the Black community.

Dan Calloway.jpg
Voter and Riviera Beach resident Dan Calloway.

“You shouldn't be trying to control anything,” Calloway said. “You should try to be fair. You should try to make it fair for everybody.”

DeSantis remains committed to his map saying he won't allow skin color to dictate the district boundaries that he and his supporters believe is race-based decision making and not welcome in Florida.

The governor is expected to approve the new congressional map by May 6.