disenfranchisement of D.C. rooted in legacy of slavery
Published 2:58 PM EDT Sep 19, 2019
WASHINGTON – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. weighed in on D.C. statehood during a Thursday hearing on the issue and discussed the “disenfranchisement” of the District’s people as rooted in the “history of slavery.”
She opened her statement by talking about her family’s roots in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and how her family had never lacked the right to vote in federal elections.
“I wish that upon no citizen of the United States of America,” she said.
“Where the disenfranchisement of Puerto Ricans was rooted in the colonialist and imperialistic history that we’ve had in policies of the United States, the issue of D.C. statehood is rooted in a different evil in our history, which is the history of slavery in the United States,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez cited the disenfranchisement of the majority-minority city as “upholding the injustice of the practices enacted during slavery.”
“It is a profound injustice and a thick irony of our history that the people who fled here to the District of Columbia to free slavery because of the enlightenment of this community are now disenfranchised,” she said, observing that the District was the first part of the Union to emancipate slaves.
The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was to debate a D.C. statehood bill, aptly named “H.R. 51,” in the first House of Representatives hearing on statehood since 1993.
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Other debate in the hearing surrounded practical matters like the governance of buildings like the Trump International Hotel, which is in a building still owned by the federal government, but would be included within the boundaries of the new state.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., asked about its fate. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told him that all hotels would be included in the new state.
The question drew derision from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who joked that the hotel was the “Washington Monument.”
“It’s amazing to me that the political rights of 700,000 people might be conditioned on the business interests of one man,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.