Apr 16, 2012 Today is Emancipation Day in the land of taxation without representation
The District of Columbia remains a colony, at least for having been denied statehood right to this day. If D.C. statehood has not become a reality during the presidential administrations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, when will it ever become a state?
Hawaii became the last state, fifty-two years ago. How much is race a factor in the denial of statehood to Washington, D.C., which for decades has long had a black majority, although that has fallen to near fifty percent. Other obstacles to D.C. statehood include Republican concern about D.C.’ overwhelmingly Democratic voting record, the small size of the city (under 700,000), and possibly its having been carved out of Maryland without a sufficiently influential movement to encourage retrocession of D.C. back to Maryland, except for the federal enclave stretching from the Capitol to the White House and Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.
I lived in Washington for fifteen years, from my second year in law school through the fourth year of my being my own boss. Then I moved to Montgomery County, Maryland, where I still live. Montgomery County feels too much like the People’s Republic of Montgomery in terms of its taxation and spending approaches and excessive meddling into people’s personal lives, at least when it comes to assuring that all neighborhoods are populated by proverbial white picket fences. However, if I am going to avoid living in the D.C. land of taxation without representation and be near Virginia, where I handle a heavy percentage of cases, Montgomery County is the place to be while living in Maryland.
One hundred fifty yeas ago — and many months before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — President Lincoln ordered slaves in Washington, D.C., freed.
Now, Washington, D.C., has a very Southern feel in its race relations history I understand that slaves built many of the federal government buildings. Right through the 1950’s at the very least, customary segregation led there to be racial segregation in such places as movie theaters, relegating black people to the balconies. For quite some time, apparently right into the 1960’s, when buses went from Washington, D.C., into Virginia — the cradle of the Confederacy — the bus driver directed black people to the back of the bus, sometimes on the Fourteenth Street Bridge before the bus had even left the Washington, D.C. border.
Since 2005, Emancipation Day has been an official city holiday in the District of Columbia.
The April 15 Washington Post has an interesting article addressing the differences among the Emancipation Memorial at Lincoln Park and the African American Civil War Memorial around three miles away, including the controversy surrounding a freed slave kneeling by President Lincoln in a statue — paid for by freed slaves — at Lincoln Park, where I previously practiced taijiquan severa times on Saturday mornings before switching to my teacher Julian Chu, for his classes and practice sessions in Rockville, Maryland, and in Carderock Park during the summer.
The emancipation of slaves was a major breakthrough. However, the District of Columbia’s continuing taxation without federal legislative representation continues, and must stop.