Last year on the 4th of July, I posted “The Forgotten Colonists: DC Residents Still Suffer Taxation Without Representation“. As a former District resident who wrote a law school paper on the history of the city’s struggle for home rule, I will never forget what it felt like to have no voice in Congress or, even worse, have Congressmen or Senators from all parts of the nation legislate on city matters so as to defeat the will of city residents.
Earlier this year, I got the chance to interview DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton on the anniversary of the District losing its right of representation (see Two Centuries of Disenfranchisement in DC). On February 27, 1801, Congress made the District of Columbia the nation’s Capital and on from that day forward has exercised exclusive control over its citizens. At that time, ,the District had a population of nearly 11,000 which made it the 6th largest city in the United States. But from that day forward, its residents:
- would not be able to vote for President until 163 years later.
Thirty-three Presidents (from Jefferson to Kennedy) were elected without any vote from District residents.
- would not have a representative in Congress until 169 years later
(even though Puerto Rico has had one since 1898)
- would not elect a Mayor for the District until 173 years later.
This is a day we are all proud to be Americans and celebrate the liberty that generations had earned in toil and blood. As long as the cloud of taxation without representation continues to hover over our nation’s capitol, our job is not done.
We have made some small progress, as the District, like other states, now has representation in the Great Hall in the Capitol with the dedication of the Frederick Douglas statute.
When Douglass began fighting against slavery, full equality for African Americans seemed like a distant dream, despite what today we would clearly view as a deplorable and degrading institution. When he fought for the rights of women to vote and to fully participate in American life — something that we take for granted today – the power structure of Douglass’ day considered the notion of equality for women a fantasy. But one of his lesser known struggles – the fight to bring full citizenship to people of the District of Columbia – has somehow remained out of reach. Yet, most Americans believe it just makes sense for Americans living in DC to have the same rights as everyone else, including a vote in Congress.
So as we celebrate this fine day, let us remember that we need to finish what our forefathers began and bring the American revolution where it belongs – in Washington, D.C.
Statehood legislation has been introduced in both houses, but no action has been taken. DC does not have a voice in Congress, but you do, so please lend your voice to support this legislation. CLICK HERE to sign the petition of support or to learn more about DC Statehood and check at the bottom of this post to see if your Senators or Congressman is a sponsor.
- Student DC Statehood Documentary (6:27)
- CLBR Interview with Eleanor Holmes Norton (14:44)
- Local coverage of Frederick Douglas Statue Unveiling (2;07)
- Statehood Legislation
The House bill has 51 co-sponsors and the Senate bill has 10 . See if your member is a sponsor.
Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 1/24/2013
Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] – 4/17/2013
Sen Cowan, William M. [MA] – 6/19/2013
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 1/24/2013
Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] – 3/19/2013
Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] – 4/17/2013
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] – 4/17/2013
Sen Murray, Patty [WA] – 1/24/2013
Sen Reid, Harry [NV] – 6/18/2013
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] – 6/19/2013
Rep Bass, Karen [CA-37] – 6/5/2013
Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2] – 6/5/2013
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 1/15/2013
Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] – 1/15/2013
Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-5] – 5/20/2013
Rep Butterfield, G. K. [NC-1] – 5/20/2013
Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] – 3/19/2013
Rep Christensen, Donna M. [VI] – 1/15/2013
Rep Chu, Judy [CA-27] – 2/8/2013
Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-9] – 4/16/2013
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] – 1/15/2013
Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO-5] – 6/5/2013
Rep Clyburn, James E. [SC-6] – 6/5/2013
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] – 1/15/2013
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. [VA-11] – 3/5/2013
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-13] – 1/15/2013
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] – 6/5/2013
Rep Deutch, Theodore E. [FL-21] – 3/19/2013
Rep Edwards, Donna F. [MD-4] – 5/20/2013
Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] – 1/15/2013
Rep Faleomavaega, Eni F. H. [AS] – 1/15/2013
Rep Farr, Sam [CA-20] – 1/15/2013
Rep Fudge, Marcia L. [OH-11] – 6/5/2013
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-3] – 3/12/2013
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-20] – 4/9/2013
Rep Hinojosa, Ruben [TX-15] – 4/24/2013
Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-17] – 1/15/2013
Rep Jeffries, Hakeem S. [NY-8] – 6/5/2013
Rep Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [GA-4] – 4/24/2013
Rep Kelly, Robin L. [IL-2] – 6/5/2013
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-13] – 2/25/2013
Rep Levin, Sander M. [MI-9] – 5/13/2013
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] – 3/20/2013
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-12] – 3/20/2013
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-2] – 4/9/2013
Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-5] – 6/5/2013
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-10] – 1/15/2013
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-32] – 1/15/2013
Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-7] – 5/21/2013
Rep Pierluisi, Pedro R. [PR] – 2/6/2013
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] – 1/15/2013
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-13] – 1/15/2013
Rep Richmond, Cedric L. [LA-2] – 6/5/2013
Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] – 1/15/2013
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 5/13/2013
Rep Scott, Robert C. “Bobby” [VA-3] – 2/15/2013
Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-15] – 6/18/2013
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-25] – 4/24/2013
Rep Thompson, Bennie G. [MS-2] – 6/5/2013
Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-43] – 5/20/2013
Rep Wilson, Frederica S. [FL-24] – 6/5/2013