District ‘Leadership’: Blurred Visionaries

To pick up on yesterday’s post, In Support of JoeMentum, it’s sadly fitting that today Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Gray, and DCVote were all on hand to talk about the goal for early next Congress being having the District’s vote in the Committee of the Whole restored. This isn’t a full house vote, instead its a vote on amendments and rules. Yep, the District’s “leadership” has officially set a goal for chasing after crumbs. Is the vote in the Committee of the Whole better than not having it? Yes, a vote in the Committee of the Whole is better than not having it without a doubt, but that’s not the type of goal we need to be setting. The people of the District need and want to be inspired and motivated but this action achieves neither. Goals need to inspire, goals need to give direction to where we are headed, and goals need to be clear…this is none of that.

Leadership is the ability to influence and inspire and somehow speaking out for a minor vote on rules and amendments doesn’t seem very inspiring. On the heels of Senator Lieberman setting a clear goal for the District (statehood), something to inspire and give direction, the current District ‘leaders’ had a press conference to talk about their prioritizing getting back a partial vote not even on final legislation. When our elected leaders make Joe Lieberman look like a radical revolutionary in the legislative realm we’ve got a real problem.

Our problem isn’t that our cause isn’t right and just, our problem is that we still have a colonial mentality where our leaders fight over and fight for crumbs in some distorted effort to prove they achieved something. Their logic seems to be “if we set the bar low, maybe we’ll achieve something.” Yes, statehood is lofty and long-term goal that will involve a hard struggle, but it is the only legislative goal that will make us full and equal citizens. Real leaders, people like John Lewis, Lawrence Guyot, Diane Nash, Bob Moses, Ella Baker and yes, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Marion Barry, and hundreds of others back in the 1960s didn’t fight for crumbs they fought for equality. They created a vision for themselves, their neighbors, and their country to create the ‘beloved community’ and they doggedly stuck to making that vision a reality. They worked, they struggled, they suffered, they endured, they inspired, and they achieved. That’s the type of leadership we sorely need in the District today. We need visionaries, we need people willing to sacrifice and inspire, we need people to think big and act bigger.

Leaders in the statehood movement are both known individuals and talent yet to be discovered, there are John Lewis’, Diane Nash’s, Fannie Lou Hamer’s, Jim Zwerg’s, Lawrence Guyot’s, and others all around the District. The people of the District are waiting to be inspired and to inspire, to become organized and to become organizers, and to get working toward a common and aspirational goal. Our leaders are failing to lead and they proved it once again at their press conference on December 27th, 2012 but there is hope out there and its in the hearts and homes of the 632,000 of us not elected to office.

Become a leader, join the struggle for American citizenship, join the statehood movement. We have plenty of work and we’re looking for plenty of people. Email us at unitedforstatehood@gmail.com

Josh Burch

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