Virginia McLaurin, the 107-year-old dynamo who danced with President Obama but couldn’t obtain a District photo ID, can get one now, thanks to a new regulation announced Tuesday by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.
The regulation, effective immediately, is designed to help people 70 and older who lack necessary documentation for a District-issued ‘Real ID,’ which is required for air travel and other business requiring identification.
The new rule, which complies with federal requirements, allows the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles director to expand the list of acceptable documents for residents 70 and older, whose birth certificates and other identifying information may be harder to dig up.
McLaurin, a longtime District resident who was born to Southern sharecroppers in 1909, made headlines this year when she was invited to the White House as part of a Black History Month celebration.
A video of her dancing with the president went viral, and she was showered afterward with attention and financial help, including her first smartphone, a better apartment, an offer to meet the Harlem Globetrotters, and invitations to visit New York and Los Angeles.
But she couldn’t fly. She had lost her government-issued ID several years ago in a purse-snatching. To obtain a new one, she was told she would need a birth certificate from South Carolina — but to get the birth certificate, she needed a photo ID.
She despaired of ever getting a new one.
“I was birthed by a midwife and the birthday put in a Bible somewhere,” she recently told The Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy. “I don’t know if they even had birth certificates back then.”
But on Tuesday, Bowser (D), Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue and DMV Director Lucinda M. Babers met with McLaurin to complete her paperwork. McLaurin received a temporary ID, valid until she receives a permanent one in the mail.
The District’s DMV had been working since June on the exception process, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Bowser called the new regulation a “common-sense” fix for older people who are asked to provide documentation that might not have existed when they were born.
“Our seniors deserve easy access to a government photo ID so they can take advantage of the many benefits, activities and services that other residents enjoy,” she said.
McLaurin, who volunteers as a foster grandmother 40 hours a week at a local school, was jubilant.
“I thank the Lord, Mayor Bowser, and everyone who helped me get my photo ID renewed,” she said. “I am especially happy to know that now all seniors in D.C. will be able to get an ID more easily.”