“I was born in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s. I remember cast iron horse troughs, riding the street cars, watching the Senators play at the old Griffith Stadium,” Banks says in the ad. “A lot’s changed since then, but sadly one thing hasn’t. D.C. residents do not have equal rights. That’s why I support statehood.”
In the short spot, Banks is standing alongside D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, an elected official who lobbies for D.C. statehood and recruits celebrities for the cause.
Actors Evan Handler, Alexis Carra and Gabourey Sidibe have appeared in pro-statehood ads in the past as part of the “51 Stars” statehood project.
This most recent commercial with Banks aired only in the Washington region. Strauss said it also ran on an Iowa public television station ahead of the state’s caucuses this year. The District’s shadow delegation has been using funds from the New Columbia Statehood Commission to produce and purchase time to air the ads.
This has been a big year for the fight for statehood. The District will not ask the federal government for permission this year to spend its own money — an act that Congress warns is in violation of the law.
“As the District prepares to rededicate itself to the statehood fight, we are making sure we are working both within and outside the District for support,” Strauss said. “You are going to see unprecedented effort.”
Next up in Strauss’s celebrity recruitment?
Boxer Jesse Vargas — the first athlete to appear in an ad, Strauss said. That ad is in post production and will likely air in Nevada.