By Micha Green
D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

As the House prepares to vote and expects to pass H.R. 51- Washington, D.C. Admission Act on April 22, national leaders, including President Joe Biden, expressed support to make the nation’s capital the 51st state.

“For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress.  This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.  H.R. 51 rights this wrong by making Washington, D.C. a state and providing its residents with long overdue full representation in Congress, while maintaining a Federal District that will continue to serve as our Nation’s seat of government,” said President Biden in an official statement from the Office of Management and Budget.

With the plan to make the nation’s capital a state, it’s official name would become Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, paying homage to two of the country’s leaders, the first President of the United States and abolitionist, orator and Southeast, D.C. resident Frederick Douglass.  The President noted that achieving statehood in D.C. is about justice.

“Establishing the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just,” the President added. “Washington, D.C. has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy.”

Other national leaders, such as People for the American Way (PFAW) President Ben Jealous, took to social media to discuss statehood in relation to other racial discrimination.

“D.C. Statehood is a racial justice issue,” Jealous tweeted.

Though not as melanated as it was when D.C. was first coined “Chocolate City,” the nation’s capital is still 46 percent African American primarily a Democratic locale.  Some Twitter users noted that if D.C.’s demographics were different, then statehood would have been achieved a long time ago.

“You know if were full of White GOP they’d be a state tomorrow,” one Twitter user wrote in response to Jealous’ tweet.

Another Twitter user noted that statehood for Washingtonians is a “basic civil right.”

Washington D.C.’s Representative in Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who has been ferociously fighting for statehood in her city for years, described how incredibly personal this battle for congressional equality is for her as a native Washingtonian.

“My own family has lived in D.C. since my great-grandfather has lived in D.C. since my great-grandfather Richard Holmes, as a lave, walked away from a plantation in Virginia and made his way to D.C. almost 200 years ago,” said Holmes Norton.  “Richard Holmes made it as far as D.C., a walk to freedom but not to equal citizenship so far for our family.”

President Biden said he is looking forward to working on the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.

“The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’ constitutional responsibilities and its constitutional authority to admit new states to the Union by legislation,” said Biden.  “The Administration calls for the Congress to provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people of Washington, D.C.”

 

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor