(Washington, DC) – Ahead of presenting Vivian Lowery Derryck with the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award at tonight’s United Nation Association of the National Capital Area’s Human Rights Awards, Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed December 2019 “Human Rights Month” in Washington, DC. In addition to tonight’s awards, last week, the DC Commission on Human Rights hosted their 9th annual awards gala. The gala, held each December, commemorates the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year’s event, themed The Fight for 51, focused on the District’s fight to achieve statehood.
“On the heels of this year’s historic DC statehood hearing, we are making clear: denying 702,000 DC residents representation in Congress is not only unjust, it is a human rights issue that strikes at the very core of our democracy,” said Mayor Bowser. “Washingtonians deserve statehood, have voted in favor of statehood, and we won’t stop fighting until we achieve statehood.”
At the gala, George Washington University Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic offered research-based evidence that continued denial of statehood by Congress is a human rights violation, one which has been denounced by the United Nations. In addition, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and George A. Jones of Bread for the City were honored.
Congresswoman Norton received the inaugural Human Rights Lifetime Achievement Award – named in her honor – for her lifelong work in advocating for equal rights and DC statehood. Mr. Jones was awarded the 2019 Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award – named in honor of the Commission’s longtime Chief Administrative Law Judge – for excellence and impact in the fight for equity for DC residents for over 20 years.
In 2008, the District became the first Human Rights City in the nation with passage of a unanimous DC Council resolution. According to the People's Movement for Human Rights Education, a “Human Rights City” is a municipality that considers the UDHR as a guide when crafting policies, priorities, and programs.