Henderson to Congress: DC Residents Must Have a Voice in our Democracy

Contact: Kiren Marshall, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — Wade J. Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform today on the urgent need for D.C. statehood. In his testimony, Henderson emphasizes that the continued disenfranchisement of D.C. residents before Congress stands out as the most blatant violation of the most important civil right Americans have: the right to vote.

“For more than 200 years, my hundreds of thousands of neighbors in this city and I have been mere spectators to our democracy,” Henderson says in his testimony. “Even though we pay federal taxes, fight courageously in wars, and fulfill all of the other obligations of citizenship, we still have no voice when Congress makes decisions for the entire nation on matters as important as war and peace, taxes and spending, health care, education, immigration policy, or the environment.”

“The right to vote is meaningless if you cannot put anyone into office. Washingtonians have been deprived of this right for more than two centuries – often on grounds that had nothing to do with constitutional design, and everything to do with race – and remain so today. Until D.C. residents have a vote in Congress, they will not be much better off than African Americans in the South were prior to August 6, 1965, when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law – and until then, the efforts of the civil rights movement will remain incomplete,” says Henderson.

Henderson’s full testimony can be found here.

A live stream of the hearing is available here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 220-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.