This Monday, preceding Flag Day on June 14, the District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement about D.C.’s statehood, reading in part:
“Today, ahead of Flag Day, I directed our team to hang 51-star flags along Pennsylvania Avenue as a reminder to Congress and the nation that the 700,000 tax-paying American citizens living in Washington, D.C. demand to be recognized. On Flag Day, we celebrate American ideals, American history, and American liberty. But the very foundation of those ideals, and the basis for our liberty, is representation. DC’s disenfranchisement is a stain on American democracy – a 220-year-old wrong that demands to be righted. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Washington, DC Admission Act, and now the U.S. Senate must do the same…We are at an inflection point for American democracy, and it is within the Senate’s power to do the right thing, embrace representation, and move DC statehood forward to the President’s desk.”
Mayor Bowser also tweeted, “Flag Day is a good reminder that no American loses anything by adding a star…700,000 D.C. residents would gain full citizenship. #DCStatehood now!”
As a Federal District, D.C. functions under U.S. government jurisdiction and operates as a municipality but does not have the full authority to govern itself.
This became an issue during the January 6 insurrection and Capitol riots because under the current federal rules in place, as Vox reported, Mayor Bowser, was unable to call for national guard protection when it was clear the Capitol was being attacked. Those protections were only granted to D.C. residents after the Virginia and Maryland governors ordered their national guard to go into D.C.
NPR polled Americans on their feelings about the American flag in 2020, amidst the racial reckoning after the murder of George Floyd. There was a resounding fear that the U.S. flag had been “weaponized, deliberately redefined as a more conservative symbol owned by some Americans more than others.” One respondent said, “It was It was like a pit in my stomach…It was almost like, is it now like what the Confederate flag felt like for my parents?”
As our nation continues to grow and evolve, so might also the Stars and Stripes to include an additional 51 for D.C.’s statehood. Even though this year’s Flag Day has passed, here are some key facts about the American flag to get you ready for next year’s celebrations:
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