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A battle for the right to vote in a “coup” by a school board

In fact, before she stepped down, Ms Minich presented a new voting card for the county that would end up doing just that.

“It was my coup de grace, this little coup d’etat, before leaving the set,” she says.

Ms Minich said the card was not an effort to get rid of a black majority. The size of the board was too expensive for a rural county, she said, and it would be easier for voters if the number of school districts were the same as the number of county commissioners.

The plan included five districts and two “loose” seats, which were to be voted on across the county, increasing the board from nine to seven seats. The county-wide seats should have favored African Americans, whose population in the region had grown to 52% in the last census, Ms. Minich said.

But Mr King, who was recently hired as the council’s first black attorney, warned that in his opinion the participation rate of blacks was much lower than that of whites in the South due to the long history of suppression of voters. African-American candidates were unlikely to win county-wide seats, he argued.

On Mr. King’s advice, the board rejected the voting card. The majority have also begun to follow a new path, replacing white board chair Dr. Michael Busman with Edith Green, a retired educator who is black. They also fired the superintendent who had been hired by the previous board. Many of the votes were now split along racial lines.

The decisions angered Ms Minich, especially the firing of the superintendent, who she said was doing a good job. She asked what could be done now that she was no longer a board member.

“That’s why we formed ‘the group’,” she said.

In early 2012, a group describing themselves as “concerned citizens” of Sumter County gathered 200 participants, mostly white, at a local elementary school. Parents have voiced grievances about the council and made plans to keep the pressure on.

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