In 1971 Washington’s leading LGBT activist became the first openly gay man to run for Congress. In just a two month campaign, Frank Kameny put gay rights on D.C.'s political agenda- and made them stick.
It started with a rumor. D.C. police were planning to spy on members of Congress. But within weeks, many Washingtonians weren't just asking if they could trust law enforcement. They seemed ready to scrap the city's government altogether.
When Julius Hobson ran for the District Delegate seat under the banner of the new Statehood Party in 1971, his proposal to secure democracy in the nation’s capital was very similar to today’s H.R. 51. However, this now mainstream policy was a fringe idea for much of the past fifty years.
In 1933, William Dudley Pelley founded the Silver Legion, an American-made fascist organization to match the movements seizing power in Europe. Seven years later, the new House Un-American Activities Committee called him to Washington to explain his actions.
DC Statehood has been garnering a lot of attention recently. This new coverage and support for the movement is the culmination of 50 years of activism, starting with a campaign between two of the District's most influential residents.
From 1920 to 1930, George Cassiday was a bootlegger for Congress. He sold alcohol to four out of every five members during Prohibition, and at one point had an office inside the House Office Building. After his arrest for possessing alcohol, Cassiday told his story in The Washington Post.
In the 1970s, the Congressional Cemetery was in trouble. After years of neglect, it looked abandoned: broken headstones littered the ground, family vaults caved in, and the grass was waist high. Fifty years later, the cemetery has undergone a stunning transformation. As well as being an active burial ground, it serves as a community garden, urban wildlife sanctuary, place of remembrance, and historic site. Volunteers, many from the local Capitol Hill neighborhoods, work tirelessly to keep up the grounds and reverse the damage of decades past. Because, as it turns out, the Congressional Cemetery has always been a people’s effort. Despite its official-sounding name, and despite its importance to national history, its story is much more local.
Washington, D.C., has 17,000 parking meters, and the necessity of feeding them is one of those annoyances that urban drivers grudgingly accept. Though it may be difficult to fathom today, there was a time in the early 20th century when the idea of collecting fees for parking spaces was opposed by the American Automobile Association and motorists who saw it as unfair taxation. As a result, it took several years to get approval to install the first meters on District streets.