Monday, 12 June 2017 19:17

Educate Congress Day on Capitol Hill Featured

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Anise Jenkins and Evanna Powell after meeting with a Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) staffer.  Karen Szulgit and Nia 2x, president of the Greater DC Chapter of the National Action Network, flank Anise Jenkins outside the office of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Anise Jenkins and Evanna Powell after meeting with a Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) staffer. Karen Szulgit and Nia 2x, president of the Greater DC Chapter of the National Action Network, flank Anise Jenkins outside the office of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

June 12, 2017

Members of Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC) joined the DC Statehood Coalition’s Lobby Day (aka “Educate Congress Day”) on Capitol Hill on June 12, 2017, in a serious effort to spread the word about S.1278, the Washington, DC Admission Act.

Our team – Anise Jenkins, executive director, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC); Evanna Powell, Ambassador for DC Statehood, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC); and Karen A. Szulgit, staff assistant to United States Senator Michael D. Brown (D-D.C.)– definitely had hopes of returning with co-sponsorships for the Senate legislation.

We had a mighty goal, not only to approach senators belonging to the Democrat Party, but to also expose senators belonging to the Republican Party.  We dared to dream that Republicans would choose to adhere to their philosophy of small federal government which would exercise as little national influence on local government affairs.  In other words, we decided to find out if the Republicans would recognize that its continual interference with DC’s local laws, such as the “Death with Dignity Law” or DC’s local gun laws would be protected from interference of soon-to-be-retired Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah-3rd), or the law intended to limit those laws by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

We visited the offices of six Republican Senators:  Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Luther J. Strange III (R-Ala.) and Todd C. Young (R-Ind.).  We also visited the offices of three Democratic Senators:  Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.).  We approached each office, whether Democrat or Republican, with the same demand:  View DC statehood and local autonomy as a civil and human rights issue and not as a partisan one.

We made “the ask” of each office, but the most hopeful reply was from Senator Kamala Harris, who had been visited by three different teams of DC residents, to date.  Her staffer emphasized that he would encourage her support, and we left with great hope.

Later in the day we were joined by Nia 2x, the President of the Greater DC Chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), who represented NAN President Reverend Al Sharpton well in her support and direct questions to Hill staffers.  Rev. Sharpton has given his full support for DC statehood over the years.

We also tested whether there was support for statehood for reportedly Republican Puerto Rico, whose citizens had just voted in favor of statehood the day before our visit.  Republican responses were much stronger than the guarded reply for DC statehood legislation.  One office even rejected our theory that support for Puerto Rico would balance out support for Democrat-dominated DC.We left the Senate buildings with no cosponsors, but with the knowledge that Educate/Lobby Days need to be done repeatedly.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass said it best in 1857: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.”

Members of Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC) whole-heartedly agree and plan to keep demanding self-determination for the residents of the District of Columbia.

FREE DC ~ STATEHOOD NOW!

Read 164 times Last modified on Friday, 07 July 2017 20:10

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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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