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From the Floor: Voting Rights Scholars

Jeff Richardson

Jeff Richardson is the Vice Chair of the District's Democratic Party. He will be attending the Democratic National Convention and will be blogging for D.C. Wire from Denver.

Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. I depart from National Airport to start my 2008 Democratic National Convention experience. I am very excited to say that I will not be alone.

Along with me and among the crowds of people pouring off planes into Denver this week will be four D.C. young people. Winners of a citywide voting rights-themed oratorical contest, the four presented speeches at the D.C. Democratic Party's State Convention last May and earned their trip to Denver as a result.

The four voting rights scholars are an impressive group of youth and young voters that are well versed in the issue and ready to share their perspective.

As "D.C. Voting Rights Scholars", the four will maintain a schedule on par with our D.C. Democratic Party elite. They will speak to State party delegations and youth-related groups about the impact that D.C.'s lack of voting rights has on the lives of District residents. They will also lead a D.C. Vote young-voter targeted street team that will attempt to connect with as many young voters attending the convention as possible to educate them on their -- and our -- disenfranchisement.

I am very excited to see the convention through their eyes and support them in telling their story as D.C. residents. I must put in a plug and thank D.C. Council member Kwame Brown, delegation member Miriam Sapiro, and the Verizon Foundation for making this all possible.

Councilmember Brown committed to underwrite the airfare and hotel for the youth as well as raise any additional funds necessary. Sapiro, a D.C. representative to the DNC Credentials Committee and candidate for local D.C. party office, worked to secure financial support from the Verizon Foundation to ensure that the students would get to Denver.

Meet the Scholars after the jump

Lamonte Pryor:

Lamonte Pryor is a Ward 4 resident and recent graduate of Calvin Cooledge Senior High School. He will be a freshman at Temple University this fall. He currently works at Kingman Boys and Girls Club, where he was hired after volunteering 146 service hours. His plan is to major in political science and government, join the law club and participate in a summer Capitol Hill internship next summer. His dream is to be a U.S. Senator from the District of Columbia.

Lisa Femia:

Lisa Femia is a Ward 3 resident and rising junior at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. She is a member of the school newspaper and won a city-wide essay contest as a part of the National History Fair. She volunteers with Haven House and helps prepare and serve meals to the homeless. This summer she worked with Habitat for Humanity in Honduras and her dream is to have a career in magazine journalism.

William B. Washington:

William Bishop Washington is a Ward 7 resident and recent graduate of Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. In the fall he will be attending Catholic University majoring in political science. His career aspiration is to go to grad school and study law, then become a reknowned lawyer and later open his own law firm. He had two summer internships; one for the Executive Office of the Mayor and the other at D.C. Superior Court, where he received awards for his commitment, dedication, and positive attitude. In his spare time he teaches younger children how to play tennis and chess.

Vaniah Temple (alternate):

Vaniah Temple is a Ward 8 resident and rising sophomore at School Without Walls. She is the oldest of three and spends her free time volunteering with youth at afterschool programs in D.C.. This summer she assisted with teaching swimming to elementary students attending a neighborhood summer camp. Her dream is to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration with a minor in nutrition and attend culinary school. Her long-term goal is to open a chain of bed and breakfast resorts across the world.

Karla Kendrick:

Karla Kendrick is a Ward 7 resident and recent graduate of Washington Mathematics Science Technology PCHS. She will be a freshman at The University of Pittsburgh in the fall, where she will major in Biology with a pre-medicine concentration. Upon completion of medical school she plans to join the Peace Corps. Karla was the founder and president of the Teacher of the Year Coordinating Committee at her school, senior class president, National Honor Society member, science bowl and debate team member, and Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund Program participant. She volunteered at Francis Gregory Public Library and with the Help Those in Need Program at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and Georgetown University Hospital.

Due to scheduling conflicts with the start of her freshman year in college, Karla will not be attending the Democratic National Convention.

-- Jeff Richardson

By  |  August 22, 2008; 12:51 PM ET
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None of the presidential candidates are going to promote or agree to giving DC a vote than all others before them.

DC needs to hang it up as Congress knows why DC really wants that vote; namely, to make it possible to pass a same sex marriage law but that is not my word for it but that of Mr. Richard Rosendall, VP for Political Affairs for the Gay & Lesbian Activist Alliance of Washington, DC, as he made this fact clear in the local newspaper known as Washington Metro Weekly in the March 15, 2007, edition when Rosendall is quoted as saying:

When will it be time to push a (gay)marriage bill in D.C.? GLAA's legislative maven, Bob Summersgill, suggests prerequisites like these: The Davis-Norton bill granting D.C. a full vote in the House. This will still leave us unrepresented in the Senate, but will give us far more leverage than we have now.

Passage of budget autonomy, so that D.C.'s locally-funded budget is not subject to undemocratic congressional amendments. Passage of legislative autonomy, so that D.C.'s locally-passed laws are not subject to routine congressional review before taking effect. Once several states (say six) have adopted same-sex marriage, Congress's meddling impulse might be tempered if D.C. follows (rather than leads) the trend.

The point is not to wait until there is no risk, but until we have a fighting chance. If you are outraged at the second-class status of gay families, please work with GLAA, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and allies like D.C. Vote to win the next battles. Instead of looking for shortcuts or fighting one another, let's press ahead smartly together. The District of Columbia per the gay publication The Advocate is now the USA’s third largest gay community in the United States per capita and growing as gays see DC as being the best place for achieving the goal of same sex marriage.

It is bad enough that DC is a major embarrassment around the world for the USA but let's not make it worse by granting it a vote in Congress and what will inevitably be the short term outcome.

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees, Sr. | August 22, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Rees,
I believe working on behalf of all District residents is more important than any particular subset. The issues facing the gay community in DC do not take precedent over the lack of representation for all of DC. While I do not diminish the importance of your issue to you and others, it is not important to me. There are a great many District residents who are not impacted by GLAA but are impacted by the lack of a voice in the House and Senate. If the idea is to pick our battles, let's pick the one that means the most.

Posted by: ahs78grad | August 22, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Embarrassment, or the right moment, have nothing to do with our heartfelt desire to have a voice in Congress. I am as much an American citizen as anyone in this country except there is no one in Congress who I can call or write to express myself, as the Declaration and Constitution give me the right to do. That's all I want -- the same as every other American. Side issues such as gay rights and religion in schools and reform of Social Security are pressing, but right now I have no say in them, and I want one! Please, people, don't be so short-sided as to think that a single small issue should delay our rights. As I have done, I hope others will write to the presidential candidates and hear what they have to say about D.C. statehood. We must not give up this worthy fight!

Posted by: Sharon Buck | August 22, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Whoever or possible representative in Congress might be, it would most likely come from the ranks of our local leaders who have done a very poor job of responding to the needs of voters.

Until Conress changes the law, anything shor of that would meet with a Supreme Court veto sort to say.

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees, Sr. | August 22, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan R. Rees, Sr. why are you spamming posts on the Wire? And spamming with hate filled messages at that?

Posted by: uniongal | August 22, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse


Hate or truth? Sometimes the truth that is not liked by people it attacks is called hate when it is not such.

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees, Sr. | August 23, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I think Rees is on the money. We have entrusted the District to the gay community whether or not people realize our mayor and city council is heavily g/l/b/t and they have botched it up, they have ushered in discrimination based on age and race and DC does not need to become another SF.

Posted by: VM | August 23, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: citizenW | August 25, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: citizenW | August 25, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Washington, DC: Governed Without Consent

Posted by: citizenW | August 25, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

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