On April 16th, 1862 Abraham Lincoln emancipated the 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia, a significant human rights achievement, and a huge step forward in the democratic promise and destiny of our country. The District’s Emancipation Day came months before what is commonly known as the Emancipation Proclamation and several years before the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were adopted to the US Constitution. In the District, we should both celebrate the 150th anniversary of our Emancipation Day and use it as a call to action for our inclusion in the United States of America as citizens with full and equal rights as our neighbors in the 50 states. It will always be the American democratic experiment as long as 618,000 people who inhabit the land surrounding the US Capitol and the White House are denied full representation in Congress. It will always be the American democratic experiment as long as our locally raise tax dollars must undergo Congressional approval before being spent. It will always be the American democratic experiment as long as our local and federal courts are appointed by the President and confirmed by the US Senate, a body where we have no representation. It will always be the American democratic experiment as long as its democratic promise is not shared by all of its citizens.
The American democratic experiment is over 200 years old but 150 years ago President Lincoln took a huge stride toward making us a more just, equitable, and moral country. What makes the District’s Emancipation so noteworthy is that it freed 3100 enslaved Americans and it was the first time that the federal government acknowledged that the institution of slavery was unjust, evil, and needed to be abolished. The District’s Emancipation showed that if a policy or practice was not right and was not just, it most certainly should not exist in the nation’s capital. When will the leaders of today speak out against the 200 years of injustice towards the citizens of the nation’s capital?
On April 16th, 2012, we should celebrate the District’s Emancipation Day, we should honor and remember all those wrongly enslaved during a morally troubled period in our nation’s history, we should celebrate President Lincoln’s act of courage, and we should rededicate ourselves toward completing the American democratic experiment. America was founded as a rebuke to a system of Taxation Without Representation yet here we are today with 618,000 people denied representation in our “great representative bodies.” The US Capitol is a symbol of democracy for democracy lovers around the world except for those of us that live closest to it. On April 16th, 2012 we should join together with a common purpose of creating a more perfect Union and that common purpose is Statehood for New Columbia.
Many thanks to all who have worked tirelessly to re-establish, preserve, protect, and observe the District’s Emancipation Day.
To join our Statehood lobby effort on the afternoon of April 16th, 2012 contact us a firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be honored to have you join us!