by Eleanor Goldfield

Today, a coalition of groups organized a Rally for Equality, demanding statehood and representation for DC. Backstory: DC is not a state and therefore does not enjoy states rights. What are those? Well, plenty – but most importantly it means that you have representation in the federal government. DC does not. What we have are non-voting delegates, like Eleanor Holmes-Norton. This means that our delegates sit through Congressional proceedings but when it comes time to vote, all they can do is try to persuade other members of Congress to vote in their favor. In other words, members of Congress use DC tax dollars (because yes, we have to pay state taxes) without allowing us a say in how that money is spent. This essentially equates to DC being a colony of the United States – kind of odd and uniquely fucked up for the capital of the country.

DC residents overwhelmingly agree. So today, organizers marched from Freedom Plaza to the Capitol demanding statehood for DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser also called on for a vote in November to make DC the 51st state.

Choosing the day typically known as tax day, organizers also sought to hi-light the deeper issue of representation and voting rights through recognition of DC Emancipation Day – April 16th.

In 1862, more than 3,000 enslaved individuals in DC were freed. It would be another 8 months before Abraham Lincoln freed slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation. This means that DC was the first area in the United States to be liberated from slavery and yet, as one organizer pointed out, the descendants of those slaves, and indeed every DC resident, have yet to exercise the rights of a freed person with government representation.

For more information on this issue, visit DC Vote .

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