NAACP President Jealous Suggests D.C. Voting Rights Activists Be More Aggressive

A national civil rights leader suggested today that District residents should be much more aggressive in demanding voting rights in Congress or statehood.

On the WAMU Politics Hour Friday, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said his influential, national civil rights group might help the local activists.

“As soon as they’re ready we’re willing to help across the country,” he said. “We do help from time to time but I think it’s time to go into a more militant, aggressive phase.”

Jealous noted DC Vote, which works principally as a lobbying group, has had some success but needs to be more aggressive. He suggested a take-no-prisoners approach because of how long the effort has been going on.

DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zirka said his group does plan to step up its activities.

“We do need something bigger and more sustaining than the efforts that we’ve had over the last year plus," he said.

Even the Democratic Party is not promoting statehood for D.C. in its national convention platform this year, while the GOP platform outright opposes it.

DC Vote conceded a series of scandals in city politics isn't helping the city's image.

“It’s certainly a distraction,” Zirka said. “The work must continue, and the work must continue down at the conventions -- at the Republican convention and the Democratic convention.”

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