(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest that pass by the White House would be deemed “D.C. Statehood Now Way,” under a bill being floated by the D.C. Council.
The symbolic street rename “sends a strong message to the leader of our free nation and the millions of visitors to our nation’s capital that until D.C. achieves statehood … we are not truly free,” said Councilmember Yvette Alexander, the Ward 7 Democrat who introduced the bill. Five other members of the council are co-sponsoring the measure.
Alexander said she was inspired by the July Fourth holiday, and the Founding Fathers who “declared the independence for which they fought.”
“We in the District of Columbia continue to fight for what every other citizen of the United States has by right, whether it be medical marijuana, penalties for marijuana, guns, women’s reproductive health, our skyline, our tax base, our budget, the passage of our laws, our form of government, and our representation in the national legislature,” she said.
“We’re ultimately controlled by Congress — a body of 535 voting members who could only be there because they don’t live here,” Alexander continued. “No other state must endure the same as the citizens of the District of Columbia.”
The council has been on a street-christening kick lately. In late May, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., and some powerful members of the House asked District officials to consider renaming a street outside the Chinese Embassy in Northwest Washington to honor jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Responding to Wolf’s request, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a resolution that would dub the four lanes of traffic that separate the East Front from the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress as “D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way.”
Local lawmakers supported the Liu Xiaobo rename, and the message it would send about human rights abuses, but indicated that they didn’t have the power to change the name of federal property. Congress would have to do the legislative lifting.
Alexander’s proposal to symbolically rename the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest would require an affirmative vote of the D.C. Council and approval by the mayor. Congress would then have 30 legislative days to review the White House street rename.
Ward 1 Democrat Jim Graham, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the District should use every opportunity to send a message to the people and the federal officials who have the power to grant D.C. greater autonomy. He called D.C.’s struggle for statehood the “last civil rights cause — or one of the last civil rights causes in America today for which there has been no progress whatsoever.”