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Last month, the District sought redress for yet another federal diss, demanding the right to place two statues in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, alongside those from the 50 states. Congress hasn’t agreed just yet, but the District is going ahead with carving the statues anyway (to be placed in the Wilson Building “as suggestions to Congress for placement in Statuary Hall”), according to a city press release. So city officials created a contest to select whose heads will be carved from a ballot of 30 dead, notable Washingtonians.
“There’s a phenomenal, phenomenal set of heroes on that list—Frederick Douglass, Duke Ellington, Joe Rauh,” says Shelley Broderick, dean of the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law. But there is one person missing from that list, she says: David A. Clarke.
Broderick sought to remedy the slight with a write-in campaign. Last month, she sent an e-mail to a list of UDC supporters urging them to pencil in Clarke’s name, citing his civil-rights work, his 21 years as a councilmember, his role in creating the law school, and his popularity among African-American and Hispanic residents despite the fact that he was white.
Broderick insists it’s not accurate to call it a campaign. “If I’d have really done campaigning, I’d have had the students do it,” she says.
In any case, Lionell Thomas, assistant director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which ran the contest, says the effort wasn’t enough to propel Clarke to victory; “very few” write-in votes were cast, Thomas says, but Clarke had more than any other.
Out of 2,826 total votes cast, Clarke received 133, a respectable 4.7 percent—good enough for 8th place. Among white dudes, he did even better, beating out the likes of Edward Miner Gallaudet, James Hoban, and John Hechinger. Only Francis Scott Key got more votes.