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In a New Great Depression, we need a new JUBILEE

Today is Emancipation Day, when we commemorate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in D.C. Usually ONE DC members observe this holiday by gathering, engaging in political education to better understand our history of collective struggle toward emancipation. Being unable to join together physically, we share our thoughts on liberation today with you, and we invite you to share your thoughts with us.

Emancipation Day 2018 celebrating the purchase of the Black Workers & Wellness Center

On Emancipation Day 2020, we are lifting up the liberatory history of Jubilee:

Faced with the potential for complete social breakdown, Sumerian and later Babylonian kings periodically announced general amnesties … Such decrees would typically declare all outstanding consumer debt null and void, return all land to its original owners, and allow all debt-peons to return to their families. Before long, it became more or less a regular habit for kings to make such a declaration on first assuming power, and many were forced to repeat it periodically over the course of their reigns.

In Sumeria, these were called “declarations of freedom”—and it is significant that the Sumerian word amargi, the first recorded word for “freedom” in any known human language, literally means “return to mother”—since this is what freed debt-peons were finally allowed to do.

-Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Jubilee. The first recorded word for "freedom." A periodic release from debts and bondage. A mass transformation of economic and social relations.

Before the onset of COVID-19, the U.S. working class, especially Black and brown communities, were already struggling. Now we've entered a new great depression.

-20 million filed for unemployment.
-$1.5 trillion in student debt.
-$50 billion in rent due on April 1, and nearly 1/3 of renters weren't able to pay.
-40% of people don't have $400 to pay for an emergency expense.
-2.3 million people incarcerated. 540,000 people locked up who haven't even been convicted or sentenced.

It's time for a new jubilee. We want a future free from debt, free from housing profiteering, free from mass incarceration, free from racial capitalism.

Free the land. Immediately cancel rent, mortgage and utility payments. Open up the luxury hotels, condos, and 17 million homes that sit vacant while people are forced to sleep on the streets. Turn housing over to be stewarded by the people who live in it through cooperatives and community land trusts, rather than privatized for profit.

Free the people. Close the detention camps. Protect the basic human rights of prisoners. Release the millions of unjustly incarcerated.

Free the workers. Forgive the massive student loan and consumer debt burdens that weigh down on us. Put control of corporations -- Amazon, Walmart, Smithfield Foods, Pfizer -- into the hands of the workers so that we can ensure the distribution of essential products that meet our human needs. Use the profits that are being hoarded by the capitalist class to provide every family a guaranteed income.

We don't just want bailouts, we want radical transformation. In the face of this new great depression, we need a new jubilee that guarantees that every single person has a right to housing, income, and wellness not just during a public health crisis, but beyond it.

Join ONE DC in fighting for it!


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