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Redistricting plans divide community

Kevin C. Peterson | 7/25/2012, 8:14 a.m.

A voting rights coalition of color, including the Boston NAACP, Oiste, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the Chinese Progressive Association, balked at Yancey’s map. Coalition members say the Mattapan neighborhood should remain split in order to bolster minority voter strength elsewhere. The coalition’s plan also ensures that each incumbent is protected.

“They are offering a status quo map...which is regressive in every way” said Yancey in an interview on Boston Public Radio on a WGBH radio show last week in a blistering rebuke of the coalition. “We have to make room on the council for emerging communities of color.”

Yancey noted that the map offered by the NAACP coalition is a sharp reversal from a stance it took late last year when it aggressively lobbied the council to separate Chinatown from District 2 where the South Boston voters dominate.

Yancey said the civil rights group has also backtracked from its initial push to unify Mattapan into a single district, abandoning its former position in support of building upon black electoral strength.

In a December 2011 letter to the Boston City Council, the NAACP said it believed that “making Mattapan whole and separating Chinatown/South End from South Boston” is needed to protect minority “voting rights.”

The letter continued, saying that “this [redistricting process] is a real opportunity for positive change to empower groups that have historically been denied fair representation.”