Standing on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on the morning of his 69th birthday, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said he had only one birthday wish: that D.C. would one day be known as N.C., the state of New Columbia.
Tuesday marked the launch of a marketing blitz by the mayor, the D.C. Council, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and others who support granting congressional voting rights to the District.
Gray and council members announced a new Web site, statehooddc.com, and unveiled a line of items, including calendars, stickers, window decals, T-shirts and even Metrobuses, emblazoned with statehood slogans.
Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) characterized the campaign as an “offensive” rather than “defensive” approach to securing voting rights. He said the city will focus on getting the message out to tourists and legislators in other states by mailing out copies of the calendars to governors and other leaders.
Supporters chanting “Free D.C.” drew the attention of Occupy D.C. protesters camping out across the street in Freedom Plaza, and the group swelled to several dozen people in time for a surprise birthday celebration for the mayor.
The council presented Gray with a cake and Grammy nominee Raheem DeVaughn led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to the mayor.
“This has got to be a day-in, day-out fight,” said Gray, noting that he doesn’t think rallies and marches are enough. “If we don’t wage this fight day in and day out, nobody’s going to listen to us.”