REPORT: DC Council to decide on proposal to give African Americans autonomous areas

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By Jenny Goldsberry

A report from WAMU 88.5’s Martin Austermuhle reveals a proposal to create autonomous African American areas within the District of Columbia. Former D.C. Council candidate Addison Sarter is reportedly behind the proposal.

Sarter dropped out of the race for D.C. Council member before election day. Now, he’s proposing that Black people get their own mayor and legislatures within the nation’s capital. Back in April, he wrote the legislative text what he calls the “Black Autonomy Act.”

“To deny African Americans autonomous regions in DC, would be denying us our basic human rights,” Sarter wrote. “African Americans have the right to have autonomous regions because we are indigenous people.”

But, adding more mayors and council members could violate the law that established the D.C. council in the first place. District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973 drew the boundaries of D.C.’s eight wards that each council member represents. No single ward is completely made up of African Americans, so an extra ward would have to be drawn up.

Meanwhile even the “systematically isolated/segregated . . . perfect area” in Sarter’s opinion could still violate the Home Rule Act. “East of the Anacostia River is the perfect area for a African American autonomous region, because it is 90 percent African American,” Sarter wrote. “The Langdon Park/Brentwood area is 75 percent African American.” Together the two areas make up 150,000 people.

However Sarter hopes that his proposal won’t violate the act because the areas will be “operating separately and free from control by the present DC government.” If it is found to violate the act, Austermuhle said in a tweet “it couldn’t get on the ballot to begin with.”

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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