- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2011

A trio of Washington Redskins players and actress Della Reese of “Touched by an Angel” TV fame are among the celebrities who taped pro-D.C. rights segments as part of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s push this month for city autonomy.

The mayor’s office says the list of personalities who taped “Full Democracy” public service announcements also includes the Rev. Al Sharpton and young starlet Hayden Panettiere, who recently received a commendation from Mr. Gray for her work on the District’s behalf.

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, wide receiver Donte Stallworth and tight end Fred Davis participated in the TV spots, which will air on city cable Channel 16 beginning Oct. 24, city officials said.

Mr. Gray, a Democrat, and D.C. advocates are making their push for full budget autonomy and voting rights in Congress as part of festivities ahead of the Oct. 16 dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.

With thousands expected to visit the District for the dedication, Mr. Gray said it was an ideal time to educate Americans about the District’s plight.

Mr. Gray is scheduled to join his city colleagues and the advocacy group D.C. Vote on Freedom Plaza for a “D.C. Full Democracy Rally and March” the day before the dedication ceremony on the Mall.

Dick Gregory, a comedian and civil rights activist, is among the confirmed speakers at the rally.

The rally and public awareness campaign initially were planned for late August, but Hurricane Irene’s sweep up the East Coast postponed those plans and the memorial dedication.

Officials said the TV spots will range from 30 seconds to two minutes, will feature one or more personalities and may include footage from a recent democracy rally.

The segments focus on educating viewers about D.C. issues, including residents paying federal taxes but not having a member of Congress with full voting privileges. They will initially air on Channel 16, but officials are looking into distribution on major networks.

According to the mayor’s list, others participating in the public service announcements include: actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, radio personality Cathy Hughes, “The Apprentice” reality TV star Omarosa, former Harlem Globetrotters star Meadowlark Lemon, singer Angie Stone, radio host Bev Smith, WKYS-FM deejay EZ Street and WPGC-FM deejay Justine Love.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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