Real Talk About The Issue Of Redistricting In Alabama

Dr. Adia Winfrey talks redistricting in state of Alabama.
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Dr. Adia Winfrey talks redistricting in state of Alabama.

I’m a 42-year-old mother of four teenagers. For most of my life, I have been engaged in the political process and have instilled the values of engaging in the political process in my children. So, when my son Donovan had the opportunity to visit our state capital as an eighth-grade K-12 online student, we took the trip to Montgomery, Alabama.

The morning started with icebreakers and youth showcases. The school staff then explained that, as homeschooling families, we are an important voice in its advocacy, which in 2018 was gaining steam. Our next move was going to our state representative and state senator to share our homeschool experiences and encourage them to support this educational alternative.

Dr. Barbara Boyd, our state representative, was very active in our district, so we knew who she was and easily found our way to her office. Boyd met with us and encouraged my son to continue seeking leadership opportunities.

Finding our state senator proved to be a challenge. Because our county is so gerrymandered, it took several K-12 staff to help us figure out Jim McClendon was our senator. When we arrived at his office, his staff informed us he was unavailable to meet.

I didn’t know it then, but that experience was my introduction to redistricting.

Redistricting is the once-in-a-decade process of adjusting district lines based on state population change. Those changes in maps ultimately impact how health care, schools and roads are funded. It also impacts who is representing individuals in their district and on Capitol Hill. The redistricting process in Alabama is underway, and statewide public hearings ended on Sept. 16.

On Sept. 9, I had the opportunity to speak at the public hearing in Anniston, which McClendon presided over. I shared the experience Donovan and I had at the capital in 2018. I emphatically stated the citizens of Talladega deserve a state senator from our community representing us in Montgomery.

Population shifts that occurred from 2010-2020 will cause our current district maps to change. I urged the members of the reapportionment committee to keep the people’s interests in the forefront when deciding how district lines will look for the next 10 years. The new maps should ensure people have representation that reflects the culture of their community and not simply someone’s political aspirations.

As for Donovan, he is now a senior in high school and will be voting in the May primary election. I am urging him and all his friends to cast their ballots on Election Day because no matter how the lines are drawn, voting makes all the difference. The redistricting process can ensure equity, but ultimately the power is with the people!

Dr. Adia “Dr. Dia” Winfrey is a mother; author of the H.Y.P.E. Hip Hop Therapy Curriculum; and founder of Transform Alabama, a community organizing project using hip-hop culture as a tool for voter engagement. Learn more about her work at Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @drdia.

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