By Brianna Rhodes, Special to the AFRO
National grassroots coalition, 51 for 51 released a video last week starring District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine as a call to action to pass a law to make D.C. the 51st state in America.
The coalition, which is made up of groups in D.C and nationwide, are requesting that residents in D.C. have voting representation. This effort will allow the 700,000 individuals who live in D.C. to have a voice in Congress, with 51 votes in the Senate and have “control over local laws,” according to 51 for 51 press release.
“[There are] folks who serve their country and still do not have a voting member in Congress,” Racine said in the video. “Its residents want to pass laws that reflect their values and Congress can come in and essentially overrule the will of the people.”
Some issues the Attorney General believes D.C. residents should have an influence over through voter representation include societial issues such as marijuana laws, abortion, reproductive health, gun violence prevention. But unfortunately, Congress is able to override voters stance due to Congressional regulation.
The grassroot coalition makes the point that D.C. residents pay federal taxes, serve in the military, impact the national economy, among other contributions to the country, but have no authority to influence on the laws that are made and how their tax dollars should be used, according to its website.
D.C. residents actually pay the highest federal taxes per capita even though they have no representation in Congress, the Associated Press reported.
“Although Congress has denied D.C. statehood, we still have to perform the functions of a state in addition to those of a city government,” the 51 for 51 site states.
The coalition is hoping Sept. 19 will be the first step towards change. The House of Representatives will be holding its first hearing in 26 years to discuss D.C. statehood and the hearing will be led by Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Ten organizations have recently supported this effort and the coalition within in the past month, including national gun violence prevention groups and partners from states advocacy groups such as Guns Down America, March For Our Lives DC, Blue Rising, and Progress North Carolina.
Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives announced his support in D.C. becoming a state in May. Thirteen presidential candidates have also endorsed 51 for 51. Some include Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Marianne Williamson.
“Having your vote count, having a say in how the federal government proceeds, those are democratic principles,” Racine said. “It has nothing to do with socialism. This is what every other state has. This is what D.C. deserves. It’s all about democracy. D.C, statehood needs to move forward.”