From today’s The Guardian:
Al Lawson felt the weight of his victory the night he was elected to Congress in 2016.
He was born in Midway, a small town that’s part of a stretch of land in northern Florida dotted with tobacco fields once home to plantations. A former basketball star, he was once reprimanded for drinking out of a whites-only water fountain. In some of his early campaigns for the state legislature, he ran into the Ku Klux Klan.
There was jubilation when he was elected.
“Everywhere I would go, it was like a celebration,” Lawson said one morning last month in his office in downtown Tallahassee. “People saying: ‘Boy, I wish my daddy, my granddaddy – I really wish they could see this.’”
In Congress, Lawson was a low-key member known for delivering federal money for things like new storm shelters to help his northern Florida communities. He was easily re-elected to the House in 2018 and 2020. But when he ran for re-election in 2022, he lost to a white Republican by nearly 20 points.
Lawson’s loss was nearly entirely attributable to Governor Ron DeSantis. The governor went out of his way to redraw the boundaries of Lawson’s district to ensure that a Republican could win it. It was a brazen scheme to weaken the political power of Black voters and a striking example of how DeSantis has waged one of the most aggressive – and successful – efforts to curtail voting rights in Florida.
Read the complete story here.