Civil Rights Tour: Politics
DC Statehood Party

1017 K Street NW (Site)

Statehood for the District of Columbia is a natural right which can no longer be denied and must be achieved by whatever means necessary by the people.

This manifesto, proclaimed at a March 1969 news conference, announced the formation of the D.C. Statehood Party Committee. With a multiracial membership that included Rev. Doug Moore of the Black United Front, Rev. Jesse Anderson of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, and Washington Afro-American editor Chuck Stone, the committee saw advocating statehood as a means for advancing civil rights and black power in a majority-black city controlled by the U.S. Congress. (D.C. is a federal district that lacks voting representation in Congress to this day.)

A year later, the white D.C. activist and journalist Sam Smith published an article arguing that statehood was the clearest path toward putting a stop to the "endless quibbling over colonial reorganization" that plagued D.C. politics. He urged D.C. residents to embrace statehood as a "clear, just and attainable" means of self-determination.

Julius Hobson—a former leader of the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), the successful plaintiff in a 1967 legal case charging the D.C. public schools with racial discrimination, and a member of D.C.'s first elected school board—launched the D.C. Statehood Party in December 1970. He ran as the party's candidate to become D.C.'s first non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to Rev. Walter Fauntroy. In 1974, Hobson was instead elected to the City Council on the Statehood ticket, but the party lost momentum after Hobson's death three years later. Founding Statehood Party member Josephine Butler, a former labor organizer and public health activist, took over as the party's chair in 1977 and continued to advocate for statehood until she died in 1997.

For its first six months, the Statehood Party had its headquarters at 1017 K Street NW.