(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray today took the opportunity of a high-profile national stage to challenge President Obama and Congress directly on their failure to extend full democracy to the 601,000 residents of the nation’s capital.
In remarks welcoming to the District of Columbia the thousands of dignitaries and other guests gathered for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Mayor Gray directly challenged President Obama and leaders of Congress – who attended the ceremony – to deliver on long-ago-made promises to provide the District voting representation in Congress and freedom from congressional domination over local matters.
“Today, we gloriously honor Dr. King’s legacy and his dream. Sadly, however, for the 601,000 residents of the District of Columbia, that dream remains unfulfilled,” Mayor Gray said. “As the residents of the District of Columbia know all too well – but, sadly, most Americans do not – if you live in Washington, DC, you do not have a vote in Congress. We pay our nation’s taxes, we fight our nation’s wars, but we have no vote.”
The Mayor noted that Dr. King himself had advocated for self-determination and democracy for the District more than 45 years ago.
“In 1966, Dr. King marched in our streets calling for an end to this injustice. He decried the plight of our residents when he said Congress had been ‘derelict in their duties and sacred responsibility to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia,’” Mayor Gray said. “And yet all these years later, those who live in our city are still denied the basic rights of self-determination and representation afforded other Americans.”
He concluded by calling on the nation’s leaders to rise to Dr. King’s challenge.
“As we celebrate this momentous dedication, I implore you, Mr. President and members of Congress: Stand with the people of the District of Columbia! Stand with the legacy of Dr. King! Remove the shackles of oppression so that, when Americans dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we truly mean ‘liberty and justice for all.’”