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Chokwe Lumumba: Jackson’s new mayor

Chokwe Lumumba, right

Chokwe Lumumba, right

By Mahogany Linebarger

Special to the Amsterdam News

Last week, Chokwe Lumumba won the general election for mayor in Jackson, Miss., receiving 87 percent of votes.

After receiving the news, Lumumba said, “I’m just delighted. I feel wonderfully well about the people and their vote. Our slogan has been the people must decide, and the people gave us an outstanding mandate today for positive change in the city of Jackson.”

Lumumba added, “We intend to work diligently and put all our hearts and efforts into that, and we’re going to be calling upon the people to work with us. We’re not working by ourselves.”

Lumumba ran against three independents in Tuesday’s June 4 primary: Francis Smith received 3 percent of the votes, Cornelius Griggs 3 percent and Chip Williams 7 percent. Wapt News reported that voter turnout was low this year, but Lumumba was still able to win by a large margin.

Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro and changed his name in 1969. He says he found the inspiration for his name from an African tribe that resisted slavery and from the African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba was involved with the founding of the Republic of New Afrika with Milton Henry.

He moved to Jackson in 1971where he grew as a human rights activist and earned his degree in law. Lumumba is also known for his past work with the Black nationalists group and the Black Panthers.

In 2011, Lumumba made notable strides in Mississippi for his legal representation of the Scott sisters. The Scott sisters, Jamie and Gladys, are two women who were sentenced to double life in prison for an incident that resulted in the theft of $11, with no one being harmed. The sisters served 16 years of their time when Governor Barbour suspended their sentences.

This case along with others in the South brought public attention to the issue of governors advancing justice through clemency powers. It highlighted the struggle that organizations such as the NAACP have been fighting through. To get more governors and presidents to utilize their clemency powers to free those who deserve it is a historical and ongoing battle.

When commenting on the case and the governors actions during a press conference, Lumumba said, “Why he let them out is an argument for historians, getting people like them out is what we have to be about.”

Lumumba, a city councilman, defense attorney and civil rights advocate, defeated incumbent Mayor Johnson in the Democratic primary. Johnson was elected as Jackson’s first Black mayor in 1997. Lumumba has received support from all demographics in Jackson and will take office July 1.

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