Reaction to the voting rights ruling was swift and strong Saturday, especially in the 35th Congressional District, which is directly impacted.
At a community empowerment summit in the EastPoint area, people committed to being a part of the political process said that they hope the ruling leads to real change.
A passionate crowd of advocates filled the Wheatley Community School to work with their EastPoint neighbors to build a better future.
They talked about the challenges they face with regard to crime, education, and transportation, all the while fighting for their rights to have equal representation in the political process.
"We're changing our communities from the inside out so I'm very hopeful," said Cassandra Littlejohn, who noted that the key to success is what happens next. “It's the essence of what we're doing here today: community engagement. But it can't just stop in this room with the strategic thinking and planning that's happening today.”
Littlejohn also said that voters must hold elected officials accountable and make sure that, as the federal court process moves forward, the process must be inclusive.
"Let's look at maps in a real way, where it includes people, more people to vote the way that they want to vote, and stop trying to exclude people and stop playing politics," Littlejohn said.
Gordon Benjamin said that success is a matter of collaboration, consensus and commitment.
"And when you start collaborating, you can have more of an impact. And when you come to a consensus as to what the problems are and how you're going to address them, then it's easier to make that commitment because you know everybody's on the same page,” Benjamin said.
Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who holds the District 35 seat and represents the EastPoint area, issued a statement saying that he remains determined to serve all constituents while the courts argue over district boundary lines:
"Congratulations to LULAC for its leadership. The Court has repudiated the Republican refusal to treat Hispanics fairly in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. It requires the creation of genuine Hispanic-influence districts, not crooked lines that are only designed to increase Republican domination. Everyone loses when Republican gerrymandering makes elected officials less accessible and less accountable. With existing district lines remaining in place until the end of 2018, I will continue "living" on IH 35, determined to serve effectively all of my constituents from South San Antonio to North Austin. I will continue the resistance to Trump. Whatever the courts ultimately rule, in November, I will file for reelection."
Attorney Luis Vera, Junior of LULAC, released the following statement Friday night:
TEXAS REDISTRICTING VICTORY FOR LULAC and Other PLAINTIFSS
Late tonight, the 3 Judge Federal Court in San Antonio whom have spent the last four years analyzing, gathering evidence and listening to experts from across the country have ruled in a 2 to 1 decision that Texas intentionally discriminated against minorities in drawing congressional districts in Texas. The court found that Texas specifically discriminated against Latinos and the Black communities.
The court has ordered that congressional district 23 that originally ran from South San Antonio to El Paso be restored, together with Congressman Lloyd Doggett's district out of Travis County (Austin) and the Latino district in Nueces County (Corpus) also be restored. The court had already restored a Black congressional district in Dallas / Ft Worth.
The Court will next move on to remedy hearing to draw new maps to conform to the Court's order and to remedy the intentional discrimination. The intentional discrimination finding in this case, together with the intentional discrimination finding in the Texas Voter ID case may subject the State of Texas to once again be placed under scrutiny of the Department of Justice under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The almost 500 page memorandum and opinion, together with the Order is very detailed in its findings. It will take some time to study an analyze the entire order.
This is a great VICTORY for LULAC, the people of Texas and the Latino community.