An inspiring New Year Jubilee

I started the New Year off right on Sunday by participating in the annual Jubilee Day Celebration sponsored by the Eastern Chatham Branch of the NAACP at Mount Sinai AME Church in Pittsboro. This unique service combines celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 and the Biblical concept of Jubilee — a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon as spelled out in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus.

I had the privilege of being able to sing and swing along with the mass male chorus, while learning about the history of Jubilee that was not covered in my Baptist upbringing. During Rev. Cecil Wilson’s stirring sermon, I learned that the Jubilee year, during which slaves and prisoners were freed and debts forgiven, occurred every 50 years.

I was delighted to meet Rev. Anthony Davis, a new minister of Mitchell’s Chapel AME Zion Church near Pittsboro.  He urged parishioners to join the NAACP and commit to removing the barriers to economic and racial equality.  Rev. Davis said he was proud to have been an active participant in the grassroots protest last year against the attempt of the Tea Party-led Wake County School Board to re-segregate local schools. Rev. Davis even got arrested along with NC NAACP President William Barber.

NAACP Eastern Chatham Branch President Mary Nettles, who presided Sunday, encouraged attendees to participate in the Annual HK on J People’s Assembly on Saturday Feb.11 in Raleigh, to lobby on behalf of the state NAACP’s 14- point social justice agenda. I have attended past marches along with other local leaders, such as former Commissioner Tom Vanderbeck and Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller, and have been inspired to see so many others working together for positive changes.

I appreciated the opportunity to speak to the congregation Sunday about my candidacy for the state house.  I said that we needed not just a day of Jubilee, but a whole year, all of 2012. The economic game is rigged against working people and minorities, I said.  We have seen in the last two decades the elimination of several rungs of the ladder of upward mobility, making it harder than ever to reach the American Dream of health and prosperity.  The Great Recession has further widened the income and wealth gap between whites and persons of color. That’s why I want to go to Raleigh to fight for a “fair deal” for all, including an equal opportunity for achieving the American Dream.

–Jeff Starkweather

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