Giving Clark Some Company
This chapter discusses the fourteen-year legal battle to create single-member districts in the state legislature and aid black candidates. When the MFDP began its lawsuit in 1965, Mississippi used multimember districts to dilute the voting strength of black-majority counties. The state defended the use of the districts to minimize black political power, and until the resolution of the cases in 1979, only one black legislator, Robert Clark, won a seat from a multimember district. Through lawsuits in the federal courts and Supreme Court intervention, the MFDP plaintiffs prevailed and created a plan that led to the election of numerous black legislators in 1979.
Keywords: reapportionment, multimember districts, state legislature, single-member districts