Posts Tagged ‘DC’

Renaming the DC NFL Team

July 8, 2020

Renaming the DC NFL Team

Last week, DC’s professional foorball team announced that its name, an historic racial slur, was “under review,” evoking the image of a booth full of league replay officials staring at a slo-mo recording of the letters r-e-d-s-k-i-n-s. Owner Dan Snyder once said he would “NEVER change the name of the team,” but that play is clearly out-of-bounds in today’s climate of heightened racial awareness.

It wasn’t the death of George Floyd or kneeling team players that changed Snyder’s narrow mind, but his own bottom linesponsors, investors, and business partners are applying pressure. Nike, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have removed DC team-branded merchandise from their websites and stores. How’s this for irony: FedEx, which owns naming rights for the DC squad’s stadium, now wants the team to change its own name.

Although nobody has suggested renaming the squad “Washington Rappas” in honor of the region’s Rappahannock people, there is no shortage of suggested team names and logos. The current fan favorite is “Washington Redtails,” after WWII’s African American 332nd Fighter Group (maybe you saw the movie). In an only-in-Washington move, two local lawyers have already submitted a trademark application for “Washington Redtails.” Hey, how about calling the team “The Litigators”?

A name change is expected by September.


“D.C. NFL Team Considering Name Change After Public And Corporate Outcry,” Eliza Berkon, WAMU

“An NFL Name Change That Has Been a Long Time Coming,” Leonard Shapiro, Washington City Paper

“FedEx asks ‘the team in Washington’ to dump racist nickname as Nike pulls gear,” The Guardian

“Daniel Snyder no longer has a choice, and he knows it. Battle over name has reached its endgame.” Jerry Brewer, Washington Post

“Lawmakers And FedEx Urge D.C.’s NFL Team To Change Its Name Amid Bid For RFK Stadium,” Kavitha Cardoza, DCist

“Trump Supports Washington Team Name. Retailers Pull Merchandise.” Ken Belsen, New York Times



DC Statehood

June 30, 2020

DC Statehood

On Friday the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 232-180, approved legislation granting statehood to Washington, D.C. The District’s 700,000 citizens, who pay federal income taxes, do not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress. This bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the chief executive, would rectify that. In our current polarized political climate, those next two steps are unlikely to occur, but an election is looming.

The 51st state would still be known as Washington DC, but DC would stand for “Douglass Commonwealth,” in honor of long time resident Frederick Douglass, crusading abolitionist, orator, and publisher, who himself escaped from bondage. “District of Columbia” would refer to the area of monuments and federal buildings.

Washington DC has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont, and about the same population as North Dakota; each of those has a vote in the U.S. House and two in the Senate, and DC would get the same. The populations of Wyoming and North Dakota are about 90% White and Vermont is even whiter; DC is 46% African American. Perhaps that explains the Senate and White House reluctance to grant DC statehood. Every other excuse is just noise.


“D.C. statehood approved by U.S. House for first time in history,” Jenna Portnoy, Washington Post

“In Historic Vote, House Approves Statehood for the District of Columbia,” Emily Cochrane, New York Times.

“In Historic First, The House Of Representatives Passes D.C. Statehood Bill,” Nathan Diller, DCist

“DC is closer to becoming a state now than it has ever been,” Ian Millhiser, Vox

“Six Colossally Stupid Arguments Against DC Statehood,” Jane Recker, Washingtonian

“Trump Is Exploiting D.C.’s Lack of Statehood,” Quinta Jurecic, The Atlantic

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Image ( DC neighborhood 4th of July Parade) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Off the Mall, On the Web

June 24, 2020

2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Off the Mall, On the Web

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back in Washington DC, from June 24th to July 4th, but you won’t find it on the National Mall. It’s gone vitual, like everything else during this pandemic. Here’s the schedule. You can’t go to the food concessions this year, but they’ve promised a gift shop.



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DC Gets Few Needed Medical Supplies from Federal Stockpile

April 2, 2020

DC Gets Few Needed Medical Supplies from Federal Stockpile

The District of Columbia recieved few of the medical supplies requested from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile:

“The District got none of the hospital ventilators, safety goggles and hand sanitizer it asked for and received less than one percent of a requested 663,760 gloves and 1,132,478 respirator masks that officials requested.”

“D.C. City Administrator Rashad M. Young told D.C. Council members and the mayor’s office during a telephone call that he did a ‘readout’ Tuesday ‘of what we asked for and what we got, and it was pretty much nothing from them.’”

— “Federal government gave D.C. a fraction of what it sought to fight coronavirus,” Antonio Olivo, Jenna Portnoy and Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post


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Top image mashed by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Congress Screws DC in the Conronavirus Relief Package

March 30, 2020

Congress Screws DC in the Conronavirus Relief Package

Despite the best efforts of a holdout Tea Party loon, Congress finally passed a $2 Trillion stimulus package last week, the first step in shoring up the U.S. in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this federal response, each state government will receive at least $1.25 billion. The District of Columbia will receive $500,000.

Since DC is regarded as a state when it comes to federal grants, highway funding, education dollars and food assistance, many here feel that someone in the Administration or GOP leadership actively and intentionally shafted the District when the bill was crafted in the Senate.

The District’s population — 702,455 people — is greater than that of two states, Wyoming and Vermont. Unlike U.S. territories, DC residents pay federal taxes, the most in federal taxes per capita than any other state. The coronavirus relief bill originated in the GOP-controlled Senate, and DC has no senators, so here we are. There’s a reason DC license plates read “Taxation Without Representation.”


DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

April 16, 2019

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing the 3000 enslaved people in the District of Columbia. This was nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states, many of whom actually remained in bondage until the the war’s end in 1865, and 20 months before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which definitively outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Understandably, April 16th is a holiday in the District of Columbia, District Emancipation Day, celebrated with speeches, concerts, fireworks and parades. There’s a bit of rain on that parade, though, if you take a closer look at history. That 1862 act was called the Compensated Emancipation Act, and it authorized payments to DC slaveowners rather than liberation of enslaved people on moral grounds. It even sought to promote emigration of former slaves outside the borders of the United States.

In any case, black Washingtonians had their freedom. That’s definitely worth celebrating.


“When Slaveowners Got Reparations,” Tera W. Hunter, New York Times


“Georgetown students vote in favor of reparations for enslaved people,” Susan Svrluga, Washington Post


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Conflict of Interest on Pennsylvania Avenue

August 29, 2016

Conflict of Interest on Pennsylvania Avenue

Presidential candidate Donald Trump already has a home on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House. It’s a $200 million hotel project he’s developing in the Old Post Office Building, a historic property owned by the federal government and leased to the Trump Organization for 60 years.

As Steve Perlstein observed, it’s “curious” the government “… would choose to pass over established, deep-pocketed hoteliers such as Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton in order to choose a lead developer who has spent so much time in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that he qualifies for elite frequent-flier status.” Part of the appeal might have been due to Trump’s financial bait-and-switch. Trump’s bid included funding from his Californian investor pal Tom Barrack, the guy who had sold him the Plaza (Trump sold it for a huge loss). After Trump got the Old Post Office contract, Barrack pulled out and Trump off-shored the financing, borrowing $170 million from Germany’s Deutsche Bank instead. The collateral? The federal lease on the tax-payer-owned property.

Remember, the historic Old Post Office Building’s landlord is the General Services Administration (GSA), a federal agency.

“You’d be kidding yourself if you don’t think the president of the United States has influence over this. And [Trump’s] taken no affirmative steps to separate himself from this conflict of interest. I don’t know how this is not a bigger issue. It’s crazy.”
— Jessica Tillipman, George Washington University Law School


Bohemian Caverns, 1928 — 2016

March 28, 2016

Legendary jazz club Bohemian Caverns has expired, the victim of a suffocating live entertainment climate. Founded in 1926 in the basement of a corner drugstore on U Street, Washington’s “Black Broadway,” it became DC’s hip jazz spot in the 1960s, a place where the “in crowd” could see and hear Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Timmons, Nina Simone, and Charles Mingus.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded a live album in the Caverns in 1964, returning the next year to interpret Billy Page’s “In Crowd,” a pop hit for Dobie Gray. The RLT’s live version became a hit single as well.


“Last of the Bohemian,” Michael J. West, Washington City Paper


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Cherry Blossoms Dawdle in DC

March 18, 2016

Cherry Blossoms Dawdle in DC

The National Park Service oracle says the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms will not reach peak bloom today after all due to recent cold snaps. Look for beautiful blooms on March 23-24.



Image (“Cherry Blossom Viewing at the Tidal Basin, after Hiroshige”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Snowzilla In DC

January 23, 2016

Snowzilla in DC

Area schools closed Thursday and Friday, and the mayor declared a state of emergency, but the best reaction to this week’s Snowzilla blizzard came from National Zoo resident Tian Tian: