In our effort to honor the legacy of John Lewis, we must all continue to come together to fight against policies that perpetuate injustice. This year the most important fight in front of us will be at the ballot box when we come together and vote No on Amendment 3.
Missourians from all walks of life, including a majority of Black voters, overwhelmingly passed Clean Missouri in 2018. This groundbreaking measure moved our state away from politician-controlled maps that deprived most voters of a choice or voice, and instead required legislative districts to be drawn to promote fairness and competitiveness. Clean Missouri also enshrined protections for Black and Brown voters in our state constitution — something that did not exist before this voter-approved initiative. Amendment 3 was written and put on the ballot to not just dismantle Clean Missouri, but to overturn and ignore the will of Missouri voters and diminish the power of Black and Brown communities.
The Kansas City Urban League, the Kansas City NAACP, and the Kansas City Southern Christian Leadership Conference are part of the broad coalition to vote no and defeat Amendment 3, because it would dilute the political voice of Black Missourians. Amendment 3 is a racist gerrymandering proposal written by politicians and lobbyists. It would change our state constitution to decrease the political representation of Black and Brown communities in our state government.
As leaders of the major civil rights organizations in Kansas City, we participated in a public hearing in June with Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action. At the hearing, we examined the specific ways Amendment 3 would further racism in our political institutions and weaken Black political power. The harm this proposal could cause would be detrimental for decades to come.
The impact of Amendment 3 is likely (or expected) to reduce the number of legislators elected from Black and brown communities. It would also make Missouri the first and only state to NOT count its total population when drawing its legislative maps. Instead, Amendment 3 would mandate that legislative maps be drawn based on the number of eligible voters. This would effectively erase 1.5 million Missourians, most of whom are children, from representation in our state legislature. The architect of this racist proposal, the late Thomas Hoefeller, even said that it would be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”
The fight to defeat Amendment 3 is part of our modern civil rights struggle. It is the fight of John Lewis, it is the fight of C.T. Vivian, it is the fight of Martin Luther King, and it is the fight of Black Lives Matter. In an era where the President of the United States refuses to condemn white supremacy, now more than ever we must fight for the “more fair, more just society” John Lewis called us to create.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest. Let us not be tricked by this most recent attempt to deceive us. Let us send a clear message on November 3rd that we will not let racist forces take away what we have all fought so hard to win and protect. This November 3rd, we strongly encourage you to join us and vote No on Amendment 3.