Welcome back to Everything’s Political, Worldacad’s weekly news, culture, and politics newsletter!

In this edition, learn about two Virginia schools renamed after Confederate generals, a Texas county’s fight for a fair voting map, the killing of a Black airman in Florida, a Black mayor’s fight to govern his Alabama town, and the Trump campaign’s election strategy targeting Black political power.

Also, tomorrow marks 70 years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision declared that the “doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Check out my interview with Cornell William Brooks, a professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice at the Harvard Kennedy School, to learn more about the legacy of the case as the U.S. navigates a new wave of massive resistance.

Now, on with the show.

The Confederacy Rises Again in Virginia

Talk about a U-turn.

In 2020, the Shenandoah County School Board in Virginia voted to change the names of Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School to Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School in order to distance itself from the legacies of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Turner Ashby — all Confederate leaders.

This month, however, the school board, now made up of different members, voted to restore the previous names. Especially for Black residents, this reversal was a slap in the face.

“People don’t take the time to think about students like me, who would not be proud to graduate from a school with the name ‘Stonewall Jackson,’” one Black girl said at the school board meeting. “He fought for slavery to be a constitutional right.”

This attack on the dignity of marginalized groups is nothing new in Virginia. Since he entered office in 2022, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has assailed teaching about race and other “divisive concepts” in public schools and rolled back transgender-inclusive policies.

The push to rename schools that venerate Confederate figures is part of a larger movement led by Black and Indigenous advocates to confront the unsavory chapters of our country’s past, as my colleague Adam Mahoney reported in February.

Galveston County’s Fight for a Fair Voting Map

Lucille McGaskey, a Black community organizer in Galveston County, Texas, feels like she’s stuck in a time machine that only goes backward.

She was vital in the 1991 push to give her diverse community a majority-minority district. This change allowed Black and Latino voters, who together were 58% of the district’s population, to elect a candidate who represented their interests on the five-member commissioners court, the county’s central governing body. For three decades, the commissioner of this district directed resources to the vulnerable Gulf Coast community during various crises: Hurricane Ike, COVID-19, a once-in-a-lifetime deep freeze.

“But now,” McGaskey told me, “they’re taking away our seat at the table.”

The entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers her state and is notorious for its ultra-conservative bent, heard a major voting rights case on Tuesday. The case springs from a lawsuit brought by Black and Latino residents, civil rights groups, and the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that a 2021 Republican-redrawn Galveston County district map dilutes minority votes by carving the diverse county into all majority-white districts. While the court hears the case, the county must use a map that slices up McGaskey’s district.

Residents fear that even if the court ultimately sides with Black and Latino voters, the county’s GOP leaders will run out the clock for this election cycle by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’ll keep an eye on the case. In the meantime, take another look at my story from last December that tells you everything you need to know about what’s happening in Galveston County.

The Killing of Roger Fortson

Responding to a call about a “disturbance in progress,” a Florida sheriff’s deputy on May 3 shot Roger Fortson multiple times almost as soon as the 23-year-old Black airman opened his apartment door holding his legally owned gun.

A probe into whether the deputy’s actions were warranted is ongoing. But experts note that the mere presence of a gun doesn’t justify deadly use of force. Fortson’s family says that the deputy had the wrong unit: The young man had been playing video games and talking on the phone with his girlfriend when the deputy arrived.

For many, the killing brings to mind the racial politics of gun ownership — the fact that guns in the hands of Black Americans are seen not as a right but as a threat.

“The Second Amendment afforded Roger the right to own a gun and [wield] it as protection when he was unsure who was on the other side of his door,” Ben Crump, an attorney for the Fortsons, said in a press release. “It is clear that this officer needs to be investigated and held accountable for the execution of Roger. We will not rest until there is justice for Roger and his family.”

The Emory University historian Carol Anderson released a book in 2021 called The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America that charts how, down through the centuries, Black Americans have been excluded from the right to bear arms — whether through Jim Crow laws or enduring beliefs that cast a Black person with a gun as an inherent menace. I recommend giving the book a read if you want more historical context for this recent tragedy.

Newbern Mayor Faces a Setback

Patrick Braxton’s fight against white town leaders has hit a roadblock.

The first Black mayor of Newbern, Alabama, Braxton argues that his white predecessor — Haywood Stokes — and the all-white town council are blocking the lawful new mayor from taking power. But a federal court on Monday denied Braxton’s motion asking that he be allowed into office now, explaining that he’ll likely win the case at trial in September.

White leaders’ machinations reportedly include changing the locks to town hall, destroying critical documents, and refusing to hold mayoral elections. These actions, according to Braxton, violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

My colleague Aallyah Wright brought Braxton’s plight to national attention. While we wait for the September trial, revisit her moving story from when she traveled to Newbern last year.

The Movement to Disenfranchise Black Voters

Earlier this month, former President Donald Trump’s campaign filed its first election lawsuit of the 2024 cycle, targeting mail-in ballot rules in Nevada — a swing state that President Joe Biden won by a narrow margin four years ago.

This lawsuit — also brought by the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party — seeks to invalidate mail-in votes in the Silver State that are cast in a timely manner but arrive after Election Day, because counting these votes “undermines election integrity in the state.”

The RNC has advanced a similar legal challenge in Mississippi. Its actions seem to be part of a wider strategy to undermine mail-in voting rules and, in turn, limit Black political power.

Mail-in voting wasn’t controversial until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Black Americans and other people of color to use mail-in voting in significant numbers. As staffers at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice observed, it was only at this time that the practice “came under meritless attack as ripe for fraud.”

The RNC’s actions arguably perpetuate this yearslong attack on Black votes.

Looking for The Second on my bookshelf,

Brandon Tensley

Brandon Tensley is Worldacad's national politics reporter.