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As the country confronts anti-Black racism—with the coronavirus and police killing Black people at alarming rates—Congress actualized the centuries-long work of activists who’ve been working to enfranchise our plurality Black city, Chocolate City, and give autonomy to our Black-led local government.      

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 51, marking the first time either chamber of Congress has passed D.C. statehood legislation. The vote was 232 to 180. Rep. Collin Peterson (MN) was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. The bill would turn D.C.’s eight wards into a state called Douglass Commonwealth, named after the abolitionist and D.C. resident Frederick Douglass, and keep federal government sites like the Capitol under federal control. This new state, with its more than 705,000 people, would be represented by two senators and one voting representative in the House.      

“For me, H.R. 51 is deeply personal,” said D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton on the House floor when she jumpstarted debate over her bill. “My great grandfather Richard Holmes, who escaped as a slave from Virginia on a plantation, made it as far as D.C.—a walk to freedom but not to equal citizenship. For three generations my family has been denied the rights that other Americans take for granted.”

“Congress has two choices: It can continue to exercise undemocratic, autocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens who reside in our nation’s capital, treating them in the words of Frederick Douglass as ‘aliens not citizens,’ or Congress can live up to this nation’s promise,” she continued.     

Republicans, unsurprisingly, argued against D.C. statehood. Rep Jody Hice (R-GA) took the mic after Norton spoke to say that D.C. statehood goes against what the founding fathers intended. The founding fathers were also slaveholders so…      

Racism plays a role in D.C. disenfranchisement. In the 1870s, Congress eliminated local democracy in D.C. to limit the influence of Black men who just gained the right to vote in 1867. As Sen. John Tyler Morgan of Alabama explained it, Congress decided to do this to “to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats … the rats being the Negro population and the barn being the government of the District of Columbia.” 

H.R. 51 is expected to die in the Senate, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has no intention of ever introducing it. Nevertheless, Friday marks a day of progress. Here is some recommended reading on why D.C. isn’t a state and what you can do to change that.—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • There is no mayoral press conference. 

  • As of June 26, D.C. reported three additional deaths and 26 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total numbers to 546 and 10,185, respectively. [EOM

  • The Council has started to cut some ties between police and schools. [WCP]

  • D.C. residents serving felony sentences could be able to vote soon. [DCist]

  • Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen says the Chief Financial Officer certified the Universal Paid Leave Fund, meaning paid family leave benefits start July 1. [Twitter]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Sen. Tom Cotton blows racist dog whistle. In speech against D.C. statehood, Cotton asks if we would entrust the late Marion Barry with the powers of a governor. [Intelligencer, Twitter]

  • D.C. statehood bill expected to pass in the House today. [CNN, Vox, Atlantic]

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser cautions against Fourth of July gatherings. [Post]

  • Court reverses zoning approval for Park Morton development in Northwest. [Bisnow]

  • Bowser’s budget cuts affordable housing. [Street Sense]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com) 

  • Critic Tim Carman makes his return to local restaurants. [Post]

  • Viet Chopsticks opens in Van Ness. [PoPville]

  • Restaurants near national parks brace for tourists. [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga—streaming now on Netflix—is a “consistent delight,” our critic writes. [WCP]

  • An online petition calls for the removal of leadership at Joy of Motion Dance Center amid racial discrimination claims. [DCist]

  • New 1A host Jenn White talks about her plans for the program. [Washingtonian]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The NWSL Challenge Cup is here, and the Washington Spirit, with its full squad and brand new kits, will take the field at 10 p.m. tomorrow. [Black & Red United]

  • Tennis legend Venus Williams will play World Team Tennis this season as a member of the Washington Kastles (which is owned by City Paper owner Mark Ein). The three-week season starts July 12 at a resort in West Virginia. [AP]

  • Many fall road races have been canceled due to the pandemic. So far the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. is not one of them. [Post, NBC Sports Washington]

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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