Monday is Emancipation Day in the District – commemorating April 16, 1862 – when 3,100 people were freed in the city, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation.
This Emancipation Day, thousands of DC residents and pro-democracy activists will participate in a Voting Rights March along with Mayor Adrian Fenty, (non-voting) Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. John Lewis, Republican Reps. Tom Davis and Christopher Shays, Republican Secretary Jack Kemp, and others. The march is organized by DC Vote.
“On Monday we will march for the most basic civil right,” DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka said. “When we demand the vote for DC, I believe we will make a difference. Congress knows we are coming, and the President knows it’s time to bring democracy to our nation’s capital.”
“This is the first march in 10 years for DC voting rights,” Mayor Fenty told the Washington Post. “I think residents have a sense of urgency, and their patience has worn thin.”
Worn thin, indeed. Just when it looked like the House would pass an historic bill granting DC a full vote in Congress (along with an additional seat for Utah – scheduled to receive one according to Census figures), the Republicans tied up the bill by attempting to use it to gut the city’s gun control laws.
According to the Post, House Democrats will take up the bill once again when they return from a recess next week. In an email, Voting Rights Institute Chair Donna Brazile said that the rally and march will “send Congress and the President the message that we cannot advocate for rights abroad that we deny at home.”
In addition to commemorating Emancipation Day, it is also no coincidence that the event will take place as the Tax Man Cometh. (DC residents pay the second highest per capita federal income taxes in the nation.) “Taxation without representation is a rather significant part of our political heritage,” FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie said. “When we deny the franchise to groupings of our people, we are undercutting the consent of the governed and one of our nation’s founding principles.”
This is a bipartisan effort to do the right thing. Be there.