Rally For Full Democracy/Statehood…How Does It Grade?

The rally for Full DC Democracy on October 15, 2011 had some strengths some weaknesses, and a lot of the same tired people saying the same tired things. We have got to become a movement of fresh ideas and innovative strategies. We seem to be stuck in Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’m glad I went because we need to show our support for these events but if we don’t change it up we’ll never progress. Here’s a run-down of the highlights (and low lights) of the rally in a grading system:

The Statehood Movement (A): For the first time at all of the rallies this year STATEHOOD was the key and most used line. After years of having our message diluted by “voting rights” or “a vote” we seemed to have turned a corner and STATEHOOD was the term most often used. Good for us, good for the organizers, and good for the movement. Hopefully everyone is finally realizing that anything short of statehood will leave us subjects of Congress.

DC Youth (A): There were a lot of various young people at the rally and that’s great. The movement needs more and more young people and needs to reach across the District to get a new energy to push us toward statehood.

Ralph Nader (A): Ralph Nader is probably the only speaker deserving of an ‘A’ grade since he actually broke up the speechifying by actually proposing several concrete actions to push for statehood. He recommended changing all of the signs entering the District to highlight our colonial status. He also called for employers to start a system of rolling strikes where businesses shutdown for 15 minutes one day, 30 minutes another day, and having strikes go for longer and longer periods. He was the only speaker to discuss or propose concrete actions while everyone else gave the same boilerplate speeches about injustice. Thanks, Ralph now all we need is for you to change your citizenship/residency status to the District since you’ve held onto your Connecticut residency for a long time. You’re one of us so register like it and finally become a citizen of the District of Columbia.

Mayor Gray (B): Mayor Vince Gray and his team did their best to advertise this rally. They put a lot of time and energy to it and it was the biggest rally thus far this year (although that’s not saying much). His speech was good but I wish he had a plan to present to the citizens of the District as to how we’ll get to statehood and what he wants us to do. He’s our elected leader and he needs to have a plan.

District Residents (C): Where was everybody? For crying out loud we should have had 10,000+ out there instead it was about 1,000. Shame on us! As Dick Gregory said it’s a shame that 90,000 people fill a stadium to see a crummy football team and less than 1,000 people in the same town show up to demonstrate for their civil and political rights. I do think it’s a good step forward that 1,000 people showed up since rallies earlier this year maxed out at 250. Big shout out to the 1,000 today but next time we need 9,000+ more to show up.

The Emcee (D): Oh boy, anybody who introduces the present DC Council and praises them for their leadership clearly hasn’t read a paper this year.  She should have just introduced them as the DC Council and left it at that.

Whoever Set the Agenda/Program (F): Why do we keep allowing the same 20 people speak at these rallies and allow them to give the same speeches? Only Nader proposed something new, everyone else sounded the same (except Fauntroy & Orange but they get ‘F’s too). This rally was similar to one held outside the White House this summer with the same speakers and similar agenda…we’re still DC not New Columbia so clearly the format isn’t working for us. Let’s do something different next time, please!

Walter Fauntroy (F): He’s lost his mind and the organizers should have known that and never allowed him to speak. He sang “Dream the Impossible Dream,” the whole damn song at the end of his speech. Even the organizers had to start playing Go-Go music to try to get him to stop, but he didn’t. His level of craziness gives the movement a bad name.

Vincent Orange (F): After his years as a councilmember, tax lawyer, and lobbyist for Pepco he all of a sudden became a preacher and began rhyming and searching for appropriate cadences… I think he’s just practicing for another run at Mayor and is trying a new strategy. He should keep searching.

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