Taxation without representation is still tyranny, say D.C. statehood advocates
Jenny Brown
September 1996

Did you know that residents of the District of Columbia don't have the full voting rights that other American citizens enjoy? That's because the District of Columbia is not a state. There are more than 700,000 people living in D.C. but they have no voting representation in Congress! Why? That's a good question.

In addition to being a matter of fairness and justice, progressives, women, African Americans, people who want progress made against urban destruction and decay, those who want to expand workers rights through unions, those who want more money spent on schools will gain if voters in D.C. get full, fair representation.

Fair representation for D.C. would mean two more votes in the Senate for progress on many of these issues. "You're being denied our strength because we don't have voting rights." says James Forman, who recently compiled a book, Statehood for New Columbia, which is available for $15 from UPAC, P.O. Box 21097, Washington, DC 20009. The book is also available for check out at the Civic Media Center, 1021 W. University Ave.

According to Forman, a majority of voters in the District have already voted for statehood and created the position of two senators from D.C.--but the senators have no vote. "We pay taxes, we pay a lot of taxes, and we're at the heart of the U.S. and the center of the government, and if we had voting senators and voting representatives, you, in this area, and all across the country ... would have more support, because you would have the strength of our delegation." Forman stated in a talk in Gainesville in March of last year. Forman is a life-long civil rights worker who served as the Executive Secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1961-1967. SNCC was the leading organization in the Civil Rights Movement to register African American voters in the south, particularly in Mississippi, which was viewed as the most dangerous and white supremacist state in which to undertake these efforts. Forman views the effort to win statehood for D.C. as a continuation of the effort to extend full voting rights to all people in the U.S.

During the 1960's, civil rights workers campaigned to "Free D.C." which at the time had no representative government at all. Through these efforts, the District gained "home rule", the right to an elected school board, city council and mayor, and the ability to participate in presidential elections. But voters in D.C. still have no voting representation in the House and Senate.

D.C. has gone through all the steps necessary constitutionally to become a state. They had a constitutional convention, they selected a name. They even elect senators, but those senators can't vote in the Senate until the Senate and House pass a law granting statehood.

As we think about who we will vote for this September and November, we should find out where our representatives stand on the issue of D.C. statehood. People in D.C. have taken all the necessary steps, now it's up to people in the rest of the country to put the pressure on.

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