Saturday, 25 November 2017 18:15

Stand Up! / Free DC's 20th Anniversary Celebration Featured

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Executive Director Anise Jenkins on Stand Up! / Free DC's 20th Anniversary Celebration.

Little did we original Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC) members know in 1997, when a group of new and very experienced activists responded to the call to protest the imposition of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (DC Financial Control Board) over DC’s local government, that we were all at one time continuing a long but sporadic move for equal rights for residents of the nation’s capital.  Not only that, we were deciding to make history ourselves.  Yes, we were a combination of long-time civil and human rights organizers, fearless community organizers, activist church ministers (who knew they were involved in a moral battle) and the newly activated by anger –who had previously done nothing other than complain.  The arrests in August 1994 that produced the iconic Washington Post photo of Mark ThompsonTimothy Cooper and Rick Malachi, which was displayed on the front cover of the souvenir program, marked the day that Stand Up! / Free DC was born.

Photo Arrests on the White House fence
(photo in The Washington Post)

The 20th Anniversary Celebration of Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC) on November 14, 2017, was a great occasion and team effort.  It reflected that the official position of both the local and the federal governments in Washington, DC had determined that full and complete DC statehood was the sole solution to the ongoing lack of citizen rights that plagued the residents of the nation’s capital.

The atmosphere was electric and celebratory.  Some of the founding members attended:  Mark Thompson, an awardee, who brought his student protest and activism to the fight for full and equal rights; Wayne Turner, co-founder of the radical AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) DC  that brought the fierceness of protest against congressional control as a matter of life or death and helped shape the graphics that flooded Washington, DC; Bette Hoover, originally of the American Friends Service Committee, who brought her organizational skills, gathering the names of volunteers to enable the group to mobilize and her peaceful teaching skills on civil disobedience and direct action to the many inexperienced but willing  Stand Up! members; the relatives of posthumous awardee, Loree H. Murray, who brought her senior citizen experience as a community organizer and knowledge of the inequality that shaped her in North Carolina along with the warning that “You are not creating anything; you are continuing the ‘Free DC’ movement!”  Those new to the issue of DC statehood may have gotten a history lesson and were made aware by the overwhelmingly powerfully honest “sermon” on real political movements by Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ.  The mission from the very beginning as articulated by co-founder Acie Byrd, Jr. was what he called for – full and complete statehood and nothing less.  No incremental steps alone would ever be acceptable.

Photo 20th Anniversary Celebration
(photo by Patricia McDougall)

Surprisingly, many locally elected officials flocked to the anniversary celebration:  Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Robert White and staffers of Councimembers Anita Bonds and David Grosso.  Our insistence on DC statehood and nothing less seemed to no longer isolate the organization, but instead made its beginning and continued existence something to be celebrated and honored by the political establishment.

This recounting of the beginnings of Stand Up! / Free DC was a tale of true renewal of commitment.  Having been born from solid passion against the imposition of a federal control board over DC’s local government (led by then-Mayor Marion Barry), Stand Up! / Free DC! will find ways to continue its mission of DC statehood, stoking the anger that reminds DC residents that there is no such thing as a second-class citizen – either you are a citizen or a slave.  We are committed to agitate, educate, organize and mobilize until the nation demands that DC becomes the 51st state!

Thank you to the many organizers who made this event possible:  Committee Chair Chuck Hicks, Online Manager Karen Szulgit, Committee Members Joyce Robinson PaulEvanna PowellMaia YeboahOB BlackLino StracuzziEmma WardSandra (Mama Sandy) MorganAyo Pyne Moore and Edutainers Lonnie PaulSteven SilverMama Sandy and Royal Height.  Thank you so much to everyone for making our 20th anniversary celebration such a great success!

FREE DC – Statehood NOW!

Read 31 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 November 2017 20:42

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Stand Up! / Free DC was founded in 1997 to help the 670,000+ residents of our nation’s capital achieve full and equal citizenship rights. Stand Up! / Free DC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

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