The Wilson Beacon

“Rally for DC statehood” more of a lecture than a demonstration

Sarah Burch

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Posters throughout the District advertised a “rally for DC statehood,” to take place at DAR Constitution Hall on September 28 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. This notice turned out to be misleading in many ways. The event was put on by the Center for Study of Responsive Law, which defines itself as a “nonprofit Ralph Nader organization, dedicated to… the needs of the citizen-consumer.” It was not a rally, but an afternoon session on one day of the four-day “Breaking Through Power” conference, named after political activist Ralph Nader’s most recent book, and held on the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Nader’s first book. The conference did not focus exclusively on DC statehood, but on “strategies to take existing civic groups to higher levels of effectiveness.” The conference advertised many speakers, often heads of consumer advocate groups, including the very Ralph Nader himself.

On the afternoon advertised, September 28, there were no more than 30 people sitting in the main auditorium of Constitution Hall, listening to former DC mayor Anthony A. Williams speak on the struggle for statehood. The speakers were engaging, and though DC’s nonvoting Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton spoke at the beginning of the afternoon, the event resembled more of a discussion of the history of DC’s congressional disenfranchisement than any sort of rally or call to action.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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“Rally for DC statehood” more of a lecture than a demonstration