The ongoing denial of statehood to D.C. residents is rooted in racism.
In 1867, right after the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson vetoed a bill that would grant citizens of the District–including Black men–the right to vote. Congress overrode the veto, briefly granting notable and historic political influence to Black Washingtonians. But just as Black voters started to exercise their political power in D.C., Congress quickly replaced D.C.’s local government with federally appointed commissioners, blocking the heavily-Black region from having full voting rights or control over its local government.
Congress’s goal was clear: to disempower an increasingly politically active Black community.
In 1890, Senator John Tyler Morgan of Alabama stated, after “the negroes came into this district,” it became necessary to “deny the right of suffrage entirely to every human being.” Senator Morgan explained his rationale shamefully saying Congress had to “burn down the barn to get rid of the rats.”
People who live in D.C. cannot achieve statehood on our own.
We need your help.