Civil Rights Tour: Political Empowerment - 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 DC 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 US Congress. (DC is a federal district that lacks voting representation in Congress to this day.)

A year later, the white DC 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 DC politics. He urged DC 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 DC public schools with racial discrimination, and a member of DC's first elected school board—launched the DC Statehood Party in December 1970. He ran as the party's candidate to become DC'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 following 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.

The Statehood Party headquarters were located in the pre-Civil War building at 1017 K Street NW, recently renovated and part of the Moxy Hotel.