D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray Challenges Obama, Congress On City's Voting Rights

10/16/2011 11:20 am ET | Updated Dec 16, 2011

WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, in his welcoming remarks at Sunday's dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, called on President Obama and Congress to extend full and equal voting rights to residents of the nation's capital. While D.C. residents can vote for president, they do not have voting representation in Congress.

Excerpts of the mayor's address, according to remarks released by Gray's office:

"Today, we gloriously honor Dr. King’s legacy and his dream. Sadly, however, for the 601,000 residents of the District of Columbia, that dream remains unfulfilled," the mayor said, according to remarks released by his office. "As the residents of the District of Columbia know all too well –- but, sadly, most Americans do not –- if you live in Washington, D.C., you do not have a vote in Congress. We pay our nation's taxes, we fight our nation's wars, but we have no vote." ...

"In 1966, Dr. King marched in our streets calling for an end to this injustice. He decried the plight of our residents when he said Congress had been 'derelict in their duties and sacred responsibility to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia,'" Mayor Gray said. "And yet all these years later, those who live in our city are still denied the basic rights of self-determination and representation afforded other Americans." ...

"As we celebrate this momentous dedication, I implore you, Mr. President and members of Congress: Stand with the people of the District of Columbia! Stand with the legacy of Dr. King! Remove the shackles of oppression so that, when Americans dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we truly mean 'liberty and justice for all.'"

On Saturday, Gray led a statehood rally in Freedom Plaza and marched to the new memorial honoring King.

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