D.C. – The 51st State

©Karen Ramsey

Today the House of Representatives is voting on making D.C. the 51st state. While this bill is likely to pass the House, it’s unlikely to succeed in the Senate. But it is an historic event, the first vote on statehood in the past 25 years, and brings the possibility of D.C. statehood closer. Statehood is critical for civil rights – as Mayor Bowser says, “the fight for statehood cannot be separated from the fight for racial justice.”

Here are some things we’ve seen in D.C. supporting the statehood movement:

New Murals

Murals D.C., the official mural program of D.C., is creating 51 murals across D.C. this week in support of statehood.

Murals in the Atlas District by dr.rickamortis and Lisa Marie Thalhammer (Instagram; website). Photo by Miki Jourdan.

Lisa Marie Thalhammer, one of the artists contributing the the #MuralsDC51 project, shared her thoughts on the case for DC statehood: “Adding Washington, D.C. as the 51st state of the union is one step that we as a nation can take to reverse the systematic injustice that our country was founded upon. There are over 700,000 residents in Washington, D.C. and at this moment in time, we have no voting representation in the House or the Senate. Every American’s vote needs to count. And, we must end voter suppression in the Nation’s Capital and in all the states and counties throughout this entire nation.”

Mural in the Atlas District by you_are_JAH. Photo by Miki Jourdan.
Mural in the Atlas District by Jay Hudson (Instagram; website). Photo by Miki Jourdan.

Muralist Jay Hudson offered this description of his mural in the Atlas District: “The idea was to acknowledge the fact that many white Americans have become very supportive of social justice for Blacks. This was my attempt to acknowledge that support by mixing the symbolism of 2 very traditionally white dominated sports with the Afro comb fist. Further, the puck is black and the golf ball is white. Both are slapped around but the puck complains about it. The golf ball doesn’t understand because it gets slapped around too. The difference is the puck gets slapped around on ice by several men while the golf ball get slapped around by one man on nice grass. A nod to white privilege. This difference is at the root of how America is able to be divided against itself.”

© Karen Ramsey

D.C. Statehood Song

A few years ago, John Oliver did an episode of his show highlighting the absurdity of D.C. not being a state. He created a raucous D.C. State Song for kids, and a group of young D.C. Capitol Hill residents came to the Capitol to sing his song.

©Miki Jourdan

Miss District of Columbia and D.C.’s representative Eleanor Holmes Norton came to support the kids.

Here’s the John Oliver song:

What locals are saying

We talked to a few D.C. locals to hear their thoughts on statehood:

This is a long time coming. The District needs representation and we need our vote.

 No taxation without representation!

Denying DC residents the representation we’re due as citizens is yet another broken promise of the ideals this country is supposed to stand for. One man, one vote? Liberty and justice for all? Who is this “man”? Who is this “all”?

DC residents should have votes in Congress.

I have mixed feelings about statehood for DC, but I do feel that as long as DC is not a state, its citizens should be exempt from paying federal taxes.

No taxation without representation. DC is bigger than two states.

Yes, absolutely the District should be a state. The citizens of DC have the right to be heard and have a vote in Congress.

DC residents are US citizens but have no representation in Congress.

photos of locals by Rob Klug

Celebrity Support

DC statehood has received some big name support from actors and performers with links to the District. Statehood has been endorsed by Richard Schiff, who was born in Bethesda and worked in a fictional White House as Toby Zeigler on The West Wing. DC native and Better Call Saul star Jonathan Banks also supports statehood, as does comedian and actor Dave Chappelle, a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts. All three have cut commercials in support of the cause. Here’s the video from Dave Chappelle:

© Karen Ramsey

To find out more, here’s the D.C. government site on the push for statehood.

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