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D.C. Statehood Digital Week of Action Toolkit

If we’re serious about building a democracy that works for the people, that conversation starts with D.C. statehood. D.C. statehood is both a critical racial justice and democracy issue — if D.C. is granted statehood, it would be the only state in the nation to have a plurality of Black residents. In addition, two new senators would work to rebalance the Senate from entrenched minority control. Despite overwhelming support in D.C. for statehood, the federal government has so far refused to grant full representation to D.C. residents.
 

Why D.C. Statehood?

The reasons for disenfranchising the District of Columbia are pernicious. D.C. is a historically-Black city and Black people still make up just under 50 percent of the population. That’s because, on April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed a bill into law that abolished slavery in D.C. a full nine months before his national Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, so the District quickly became a popular place for recently-freed Black people and escaped slaves to go, find work, and settle. However, during Reconstruction, racist white politicians were loath to give recently-enfranchised Black men more political power, a trend that’s continued to this day. In fact, as recently as the 1960s, the conservative chairman of the House committee in charge of D.C. oversight sent a truckload of watermelons to the city’s Black mayor after the District submitted its annual budget to Congress.

Due to D.C.’s lack of statehood, the more than 700,000 Americans who live in D.C. lack equal voting rights compared to their neighbors across the country. In fact, D.C. residents lack a voting representative in the House and have no representation in the Senate at all. The current makeup of our Senate is biased towards white, mostly conservative areas. This means that Black, indigenous, and other people of color living in more populous areas receive less representation in our Senate -- making D.C. a state would begin to counteract this bias.

Why a Digital Week of Action Now?

During the week of April 12th, there are three key dates that represent an opportunity in building the narrative around our collective fight to secure D.C. statehood for the more than 700,000 people that call the District home:

On Wednesday, April 14th, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will mark-up H.R. 51, the DC Statehood bill. It’s an important moment in the fight for D.C. statehood and will be only the second markup of the bill in Congress since 1993.

Thursday, April 15th is the traditional tax filing deadline. This is an important messaging hook because D.C. residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the US. In total, D.C. residents pay more in total federal income tax than residents of 22 other states, but have no say over how those tax dollars are spent.

Finally, Friday, April 16th is D.C. Emancipation Day, the holiday celebrating the freeing of thousands of slaves in the District. Read up on the history of the day with these resources from DC.gov.

It’s critical for all of us to use our voices to educate others about the importance of D.C. statehood, urge them to get involved, and pressure our members of Congress to support passage of statehood in the House and the Senate (and not let the filibuster get in the way)!

6 Digital D.C. Statehood Actions You Can Take Right Now

During the week of April 12th, we’re going to do all that we can to make D.C. statehood a major part of the national narrative  — but we need your help.  Below are a few easy digital actions that you can take that are proven ways to get your member of Congress’ attention and should only take you a little time to pull together individually or as a group of constituents.

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn't Read) Version

  1. Record a D.C. statehood Soapboxx video and post it to social media, tagging your three members of Congress
  2. Call your representative and two senators using our scripts
  3. Submit a D.C. statehood letter to the editor to your local paper(s)
  4. Record videos and take photos using 51-star flags or homemade D.C. statehood signs with a few of our creative suggestions (also, this printable 51-star flag)
  5. Take part in the “50 for 51” photo & video project with DC Indivisibles
  6. Help us spread the word on social media using our D.C. statehood graphics and the hashtags #51stars and #DCStatehood.

1. Record a Soapboxx Video and Post to Social Media

Soapboxx videos are an easy and fun way to get the attention of your member of Congress, your social networks, and have even been known to be featured on The Rachel Maddow Show! 

Click here to visit our D.C. statehood Soapboxx page, check out a few of the videos that others have recorded and then record your own. If you have a 51-star flag, show the camera! Want to make a sign to tell people why statehood matters to you? We’re here for it. 

We include some talking points below to make it easy, but feel free to make it your own! When you’ve finished recording, you’ll get a link to your finished video with captions and be able to share it on Facebook and Twitter with the click of a button. Don’t forget to tag your members of Congress when you post it!

We know that recording a video for the first time can feel scary — but take a deep breath and be yourself! Your neighbors and members of Congress want to hear from you, and it’s hard to overstate just how much your voice will matter in the final outcome on whether we’re able to make D.C. the 51st state this year.

2. Call Your Representative and Two Senators

We know, we know. We tell you to call your members of Congress a lot. But there’s a reason: outside of in-person visits to their offices, calls are one of the most effective ways to make your voices heard. And just because you’ve called before doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t call again. During a week that D.C. statehood is on the mark-up docket, it’s critical that we overwhelm congressional offices with as many calls demanding that they support and move the bill as possible.

Check out our resource or our newest Democracy Guide to understand the importance of DC statehood to remaking our democracy for the people, and then use this script to call your representative. Hang up and then use this script to call both your senators. Yes, all three calls matter.

3. Write a D.C. Statehood Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are one of the tried and true Indivisible tactics that we go back to time and time again for one reason: they work. Not only does your member of Congress regularly read letters to the editor in hometown newspapers about federal issues (really!), you’d be shocked at how many of your neighbors read them and make their own decisions about how or why to get involved in congressional advocacy.

Use this tool to submit a letter to one (or all) of your local newspapers on why D.C. statehood matters and why your members of Congress should support it and move it urgently. Simply enter your information and use the example letter we provide, or use the talking points below to write your own. The more you can personalize it, the better.

4. 51-Star Flag Photo and Video Actions

During the last recess, we provided hundreds of 51-star flags to Indivisibles across the country because one of the most common arguments we hear against D.C. statehood is from folks who are worried about what the flag  would look like (real talk: it looks almost exactly the same). 

Below are some ideas about how you can make the most of those flags. If you didn’t receive one, please reach out to your Indivisible organizer to let them know you’re interested in getting your hands on one! And, if you’re in a hurry, you can order a 51-star flag here.

No flag? No problem. If you can’t get your hands on a 51-star flag, you could also make your own using poster board and construction paper, or you could simply substitute D.C. statehood signs (no taxation without representation! D.C. Statehood Now!) in many of the ideas below. Or, simply print out this printable 51-star flag from your computer or a local print shop.

No matter what you choose to do, please take photos and videos and post them to social media so that we can amplify them, share them with TV networks and reporters, and share with fellow advocates in this space who are eager to see how folks across the country are advocating for the 700,000+ residents of the District. Tag @IndivisibleTeam on Twitter, Indivisible Guide on Facebook, or simply use the hashtags #51stars and #DCStatehood and we’ll see all of your great work.

Do an “Unboxing” Video

These are popular on Youtube! Simply open your flag on video and capture your  reaction and explain what’s happening to your audience and why you support D.C. statehood and are counting on your members of Congress to do the same.

Compare a 50-star and 51-star Flag On Video

A surprising number of people name the idea of having to alter the aesthetics of the flag as one of their reasons for objecting to D.C. statehood. But the 51 star flag is very similar. Record a video comparing the two! (See John Oliver)

Take Your Flag Outside and Show Support For D.C. Statehood on Your Home Turf with Photos and Videos

Often, the backgrounds for the videos and photos we shoot inside are very similar. It’s hard to tell visually whether someone is in Alabama or Alaska. Take your flag out to a landmark or sign in your town. Get in front of some palm trees, at the beach, in front of a local college or university, or somewhere else that says, “people from all over the country support D.C. statehood and you should too!” Take a picture, or even better, a video and  tell people why D.C. statehood matters to you even though you live outside of the District.

Get Personal on Video a La “Humans of New York”

Activists in the District of Columbia tell us they’re always encouraged to hear that support for the cause they're worked so long for is coming in from all over. 

Like the beloved Humans of New York videos, just talk a little about your personal story, and why D.C. statehood feels like the right thing to do to you. For example, one thing we’ve sometimes heard from Indivisible folks is that, after spending the last four years regularly calling their senators, they’re now acutely aware what a loss it would be not to be able to call anyone to be their voice in Washington.

5. Take Part in DC Indivisibles’ 50 for 51 Photo and Video Project

Looking for more ways to show support for DC statehood from the comfort of your home? You're in luck! Indivisibles in DC are curating a collage of photos and videos from activists across the country who want to show that they support and want DC statehood. 

We're trying to get as many states to participate as possible, so no matter where you live, we want to hear from you! Take a picture with a homemade sign that reads, "Statehood for the People of DC" and send it to supportteam@indivisible.org.  

These photos will be gathered into a collage of a map of the United States, which we'll then put into a video. The video will be posted on social media and used in digital advocacy efforts to show that statehood matters to all 50 states!

6. Post to Social Media About Why D.C. Statehood Matters and Get More People Involved

When we ask people why they chose to get involved in congressional advocacy on a particular issue, one of the most common answers is because they heard about the issue from one of their friends, family, or colleagues. D.C. statehood is no different, and using your voice to get more people educated on the issue and involved in the fight is an important part of this fight.

Check out these campaign graphics, download them to your computer, and start sharing them across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tell people why making D.C. the 51st state matters to you and urge them to get involved in the work to pressure our members of Congress at forthepeople.indivisible.org. 

Talking Points for Your Calls, Letters, Tweets, and Videos

Statehood is a critical racial justice issue

  • When D.C. is admitted to the union as the 51st state, it will be the only plurality-Black state in the country.
  • D.C. has 700,000 residents, most of whom are not white, and the continued denial of equal representation to these residents is rooted in racism that goes back hundreds of years.
  • This unique oppression of D.C. residents was on full display earlier this year, when Donald Trump effectively militarized the District, sending in federal law enforcement officers and military personnel to tamp down peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. If D.C. were a state, we would have more power to eject federal authorities from our jurisdiction.

The Senate is an existential threat to all progressive priorities, and no single reform will have more impact on the Senate than D.C. statehood.

  • By 2040, more than half of the population will live in just eight states, giving a disproportionate amount of electoral power to a small segment of the population that is not reflective of the majority of the country.
  • An immediate and necessary first step is to add more states. D.C. statehood would unrig the Senate by adding two new senators who would represent 700,000 Americans. These senators would have a significant positive impact on the obstructionist tendencies of the Senate in its current iteration. 

Passing D.C. Statehood is achievable

  • Vice President Joe Biden is a vocal supporter of D.C. statehood, and has been for years
  • Right now, only six Democratic senators are not co-sponsors of the bill — and with a little constituent pressure on each of them, they’re gettable.
  • Join me in prioritizing D.C. statehood and take action now to get involved at forthepeople.indivisible.org. Tell your members of Congress to support HR 51 and make DC the 51st state—and don’t let the filibuster get in the way of  passage.