Redistricting may cost Detroit its Black representation in Congress
State Representative candidate Shri Thanedar uses a bull horn at 7 Mile Road and Mound Road for reach voters on July 24, 2020. Thanedar who spent millions on an unsuccessful run for governor appears likely to get to the Capitol in another way. Shri Thanedar was in first place in the Democratic primary for a seat in the House, with 98% of precincts reporting in the 3rd District. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP)
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For the first time since the 1950s, Detroit appears poised to no longer have a Black representative in Congress. Many are blaming recent redistricting after no Black Democrat emerged victorious in Michigan’s primaries last Tuesday.

Shri Thanedar won the Democratic nomination for the state’s 13th Congressional District, making him the odd-on favorite in November. The state legislature redrew district lines after the 2020 census, extending them from the city’s Black urban core to majority-white suburbs.

Thanedar finished first in a field of nine candidates, clinching the nomination with just 28% of the vote.

In legislative districts across the state, representation for people of color has been diluted. Before redistricting, the state had 17 districts with a majority of people of color. Now, that number is down to five.

Thanedar beat out a slate of other Black candidates to win the nomination, including the son of longtime Congressman John Conyers, Jr.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a former Michigan State Representative, is among those who lost the nomination to Thanedar. In a statement Wednesday, Gay-Dagnogo said those who troubled by the loss of Black representation are “justifiably concerned”.

Democratic nominee likely to beat out challengers in November election to represent Detroit in Congress

Shri Thanedar, a progressive who campaigned on racial and economic justice, will face two Black opponents in November.

Simone Coleman, Working Class Party nominee, is running on a pro-labor platform to support Michigan workers.

Martell Bivings, a Republican, is a pro-school choice candidate running on a platform of economic growth.

Still, in a district that overwhelmingly leans in favor of Democrats, it appears likely that Thanedar will win. The Democratic nominee says he shares concerns about a lack of representation for Black Detroit residents, but that this outcome reflects the will of voters.

“This seat is owned by the people of the 13th District,” Thanedar told a local Detroit radio station.  “My thought, simply, was let democracy take its course and let the people decide and they will say what they want. And that’s how it should be. A majority of African Americans chose me.”

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...