In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. This means that we are going to have to learn to think in radical terms. I use the term radical in its original meaning—getting down to understanding the root cause. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system. -Ella Jo Baker
Who We Are
ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 in the midst of neighborhood change. From early on, ONE DC's approach to community development addressed structural causes of poverty and injustice, an orientation that stemmed from deep analysis of race, power, and the economic, political, and social forces at work in Shaw and the District. As a result, ONE DC’s organizing work centers on popular education, community organizing, and alternative economic development projects.
In its history, ONE DC has distinguished itself as one of a few organizations in Washington, DC that moves beyond service provision to build sustainable community capacity and leadership so that low-income people of color can speak for themselves. ONE DC promotes leadership that does not tell others what to do but helps them take charge to build their abilities and skills.
Finally, ONE DC recognizes that leadership cannot exist without the support and power of the whole community. Central to ONE DC’s leadership style is the identification and dismantling of systemic influences such as racism, classism, and sexism that manifest both individually and institutionally.
ONE DC's progressive organizing values are heavily influenced by the principles and achievements of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as other groups and people-led movements for justice and human rights that have occurred throughout the world.
At ONE DC, our mission is to exercise political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District. We seek to create a community in DC that is equitable for all.
We, the people of ONE DC, envision the nation's capital as a place where low income, poor, and immigrant communities are organized, educated, and trained to take action to create and preserve social and economic equity. The membership and leadership of ONE DC will build on and organize with the participatory democracy goals and principles taught by Ella Jo Baker:
- involving grassroots people in the decisions that affect their lives;
- minimizing hierarchy and professionalism in organizations working for social change; and
- engaging direct action to resolve social problems.
The people's vision is to build power and advantage for communities of color, the working poor, and other groups of oppressed people through grassroots organizing and leadership development. We will develop membership and staff committed to building lifelong relationships with ONE DC and its mission.
The people's vision is to maintain a safe space where diverse cultures and individual stories are held sacred. We will promote social entrepreneurship and collective use of resources. We will honor teamwork and coalition building as our greatest assets. We will create a unique environment where discussion is respected, disagreement is honored, and action-oriented dialogue is encouraged to better understand social and economic oppression.
The people's vision is to develop grassroots leadership that will build a movement for positive systematic change.
In the spirit of Ella Jo Baker, we value grassroots, democratic leadership.
In the spirit of Mother Jones, we value grassroots organizing and hell-raising for justice.
In the spirit of Denmark Vesey, we value collective sharing of power and resources.
In the spirit of Standing Bear, we value people's right to indigenous culture and stewardship of land.
In the spirit of Ida B. Wells, we value organizing against injustice and for human dignity.
In the spirit of Nannie Helen Burroughs, we value collective work and cooperation.
We value our lives, spirits, and our collective personhood.
We value our unique human potential to organize for social change and justice.
We value the work of the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised.
We value free expression of human love, sexuality, art, culture, and speech.
We, the people of ONE DC, as members, supporters, shared leadership team members, and staff stand firm and bear witness to the possibility of a just, fair, and equitable District of Columbia.
We share our values with you to build a caring society and community for all!