By allowing the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to draw proposed single-member district maps for Beaufort electoral districts, Beaufort City Council has taken a significant first step toward correcting the conspicuous 20-year absence of African-American leadership on that governing body.
It's a political situation that some in the Burton-Dale-Beaufort Branch of the NAACP have termed "taxation without representation" of the city's 26 percent black population.
Bringing in longtime state demographer Bobby Bowers to work with all of the parties will prove to be a fruitful partnership leading to a citywide referendum on making the switch to single-member district elections.
Truthfully, we should expect no less from a city that is the county seat of one of the most historically significant areas in America for black freedom and empowerment.
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Given Beaufort's record of history-making black political achievements, the current lack of blacks on City Council continues to raise the eyebrows of visitors from across the nation. And it has created some mistrust at home as well -- qualified black candidates like Charlotte Pazant Brown, George Singleton and Larry Holman -- have been rejected under Beaufort's at-large electoral system.
Since at-large elections have been proven to dilute the voting strength of minority voters, I'd like to personally thank Mayor Billy Keyserling and Beaufort City Council for showing their willingness to correct a long-standing grievance of the black community that will benefit the whole city by ensuring that every neighborhood has a seat at the decision-making table.
St. Helena Island