VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., April 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — It’s a big win for Latasha Holloway who fought the City of Virginia Beach all the way to the federal courts for the rights of her disabled children, minorities and the underprivileged in her community.
On March 31, 2021 the U.S. Federal Courts found the City of Virginia Beach guilty of violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The section prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.
“For the first time in history, the shackles have been taken off the vote of people of color. Our vote has been set free,” said Holloway. “I feel blessed to have been used by God, like Daniel, to take down a horrendous monster of white supremacy rule that has caused so much pain for the poor and in communities of color. The season of oppression and despair are over.”
Holloway started her fight for equality in 2017 after discovering that her special needs five- and six-year-old children were being mistreated at school because they were autistic and asked city leaders for help.
“They just ignored me as though my voice didn’t matter. City leaders knew something that most of us didn’t. Votes from people of color and other minorities didn’t matter. The current ‘at-large’ election system dilutes the vote from communities of color,” said Holloway.
The “at-large” voting system allows people to remain in power to make decisions and policies. When you’re in a position of power, you create a structure, like the “at-large” system, that allows them to stay in power.
“These people dictate the rules in the community, making it hard for minorities to survive. Every day is a struggle. You get into a mode to just keep your heads down not to cause problems until one day they hurt my babies,” said Holloway.
Her first lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach was in federal court in 2020. The judge ruled that the Virginia Beach “at-large” election system violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Her case also inspired an amendment to Virginia House Bill 2198 that bans the use of “at large” voting systems in districts/ward systems in city councils throughout the state.
Virginia Beach has been using an “at-large” voting system, which allows voters to choose candidates for city council outside of their own districts.
However, a “by-district” voting system is seen as fairer for people living in that district. Every four years registered voters can choose a candidate for the councilors who only reside in their districts. Voters cannot vote for candidates outside their districts.
Currently, The City Virginia Beach has 10 councilors and a mayor that are elected “at-large” since 1966 in four-year staggered terms. Only seven councilors are required to be a resident of one of the districts. There are no resident requirements for the mayor and three other councilors.
Since 1966, the demographics have changed without fair representation. The number of minorities has more than doubled. According to the 2010 census, minorities constitute 31.6 percent of the total population and Non-Hispanic Blacks constitute 19 percent of the total population.
Only six minority candidates have ever been elected and no black candidate has ever been re-elected for a second term. A “by-district” electoral system could change that.
The “at-large” election method could favor the wealthy and special interest groups while diminishing the voting strength of minorities. It could also prevent district residents from electing candidates of their choice to council.
Nearly every other municipality across the U.S. has either voluntarily or through a court order changed to a “by-district” voting system. Those that have defended their “at-large” voting systems like Virginia Beach have incurred hefty legal bills at taxpayer’s expense.
“I have used the judicial system to fight for equality. I have become the change I wanted to see. I became the hero that never showed up for my children and for other families. My work is not done and need help from the community to continue with this fight,” said Holloway.
For further information or to schedule an interview contact Latasha Holloway at (757) 348-0456 or
SOURCE Latasha Holloway