MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The chairman of the Shelby County Commission says it is increasingly likely a judge will have to sort out the county's redistricting efforts after a tense commission meeting where race took center stage.
"The civil war is over, ya'll lost," said Commissioner Henri Brooks. "Please be advised, African Americans, black people, are no longer, no longer, recognized as 3/5ths persons in the constitution. Please be aware of that."
Brooks was responding to a claim by another commissioner that she said made a racial comment during a committee meeting last week.
"You would not hear me say, so don't misquote me, 'the whiter the better,' that's stupid," said Commissioner Chris Thomas. "So for me to hear someone say the opposite is irresponsible, unprofessional, and it is not where we need to get in this commission."
After the meeting, Brooks wasn't apologizing.
"You have to talk black and white," she said. "What is wrong with talking black and white, if that is what it is?... Unless you harbor some civil war opinions, I don't know. That may be a problem for some people."
Commissioners voted on a single-district plan that has gained traction in recent weeks, but the plan passed 7-5.
A county attorney said any redistricting plan would need nine votes, but an attorney hired by the county to represent it in a legal battle over new political maps said the way he understood the law, only seven voters were needed.
"Who do we listen too?" Commissioner Sidney Chism asked. "We have a county attorney who we pay a big salary with a staff of lawyers who says it takes 9… If they can't figure it out, how do you expect us to figure it out up here?"