The Florida House gave final passage to a new congressional map blessed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that favors Republicans in as many as four U.S. House seats and erases a seat held by a Black Democrat following a dramatic, last-minute sit-in by state Democrats, many of them Black.
The map, which passed the state Senate on Wednesday, was drawn by DeSantis’s staff after the governor refused to accept any version that didn’t eliminate the 5th Congressional District that stretches along the northern border and was configured mid-decade to give Black voters a chance to elect a candidate of their choice. The district is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson.
The protest began as a Black lawmaker continued speaking after she was told her time had expired. State Rep. Yvonne Hinson (D) was discussing the history of the Voting Rights Act when her microphone was cut, causing other members to yell at in anger at her being silenced. They chanted “We will not be denied,” sang “We Shall Overcome” and bowed their heads in prayer. The session went into recess.
The final congressional map, which will now be signed by DeSantis, is the result of a months-long stand off between the governor and members of his own party who had been working on a bipartisan map that would not have dramatically changed the makeup of the congressional delegation.
But, with the process well underway, DeSantis, under pressure from far-right conservatives, including former President Trump adviser Steven K. Bannon, announced he wanted a map that better advantaged Republicans, including the erasure of Lawson’s district.