MONTGOMERY — Black Republicans urged lawmakers at a redistricting committee meeting on Thursday not to redraw congressional districts based on racial stereotypes about voting.

The Supreme Court of the United States upheld with a 5-4 vote a lower court's decision to require the Alabama Legislature to redraw the congressional districts to include a second largely or majority-black congressional district.

Alabama's seventh congressional district is currently the only majority-black congressional district in Alabama. It is held by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). The legislature will enter a special session to consider new congressional district maps beginning on July 17.

Much of the new map proposal discussion has centered on placing enough black voters in two congressional districts to satisfy federal law. According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of white voters in Alabama identify as Republican or lean Republican. 80% of black voters in Alabama identify as Democrat or lean Democrat.

Camilo Fuller, a black Republican from Bessemer, asked lawmakers not to redraw congressional districts based on stereotypes.

"I've been stereotyped and thought because I was black, I was Democrat. That means I didn't have the ability to think and if somebody Democrat said something, well, I was just supposed to agree with it. Well, I'm sorry I was born a soul," Fuller said. "I'm an individual person and I stick to the Declaration of Independence that says, 'We hold these truths self-evident that all men are created equal.' So, I stand by that and that's why I'm here today. I want to make sure no matter where you're at that you recognize there are people like me that have been stereotyped. They say, 'Well, you're black so you must vote this way.' I'm determined to the vote. I think that is wrong. I think that is wrong on all of our parts whether you're black or whether you're white to just label somebody. I just happen to vote how I think. I'm a person that think a particular way. Most people don't think the way I think and that's okay. I think you've got a right to think and that's good. I'm an individual soul. Please keep in mind do not do what you're doing based on stereotype because most of my neighborhood is black and most of my neighborhood is Democrat. It's just that I'm totally left out so I guess I'm supposed to move or something. I don't think that's so."

Under the plan, the seventh congressional district would have a 55% black population. The second congressional district would have a 50.55% black population.

"The rulings that this court made were based on hours and days of testimony, hundreds of thousands of pages in the record, many hundred-page decision which was then heard and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court," Davin Rosborough, an ACLU attorney for the Milligan plaintiffs said at the meeting. "They show stark racially-polarized voting in Alabama. Race still infuses the political system here and that's why the race-conscious remedy that's presented which still respects political boundaries and communities of interests like the Supreme Court recognized is a proper remedy."

State Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham) said, "Dr. King's dream is alive in Alabama."

"We've come a long way and I'm living proof that it is not based on color as far as representation. I represent everybody in Shelby County," he added. "The people in Shelby County in my district they did not vote for me because of the color of my skin. They voted for me because they saw a God-fearing man, a veteran who served his country, loved the country, who got out and got engaged with the people in the community. You're tasked to represent the people in your district and also everyone else in this state. You have a tough task before you. What I've been hearing is a lot of focus on race and skin color."

Belinda Thomas, the first black woman elected to the Newton City Council, addressed some of the proposed plans that put the Wiregrass region in multiple congressional districts.

"I'm a patriot. I'm a Republican. I love this party. It's unfair that we talk about redistricting based on color, because the city that I live in, the state I live in… there's not a lot of us. I was elected for my beliefs and what I want to do for the people, not because of my color," Thomas said. "I feel that the Wiregrass is an area that needs to stay together and stay with Montgomery."

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