Chokwe Antar Lumumba Wins Democratic Primary for Mayor of Jackson, MS in Victory for Progressive Movement

By John Royal, NLG Detroit/Michigan Chapter President

In a stunning rebuke to the conservative Democratic Party of Mississippi; to the reactionary Republican Party of Mississippi; to the national right-wing trend; and to the election and  policies of Donald Trump; the people of Jackson, MS have risen up and overwhelming selected Chokwe Antar Lumumba the nominee of the Mississippi Democratic Party  for Mayor of Jackson, MS.  In overwhelmingly Democratic Jackson, the Democratic Party nomination is tantamount to election.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba‘s father was Detroit native, Chokwe Lumumba, who was one of the national leaders of the Republic of New Africa.  In the mid 1980’s, Chokwe Lumumba moved his family to Jackson, MS to work on organizing a grassroots movement to root out the remnants of Jim Crow segregation, and to work for the economic and political liberation of the African-American people of the deep south.  To assist with this work, Chokwe and other activists founded the New African Peoples Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization.  Chokwe Lumumba subsequently ran for and was elected to the Jackson City Council.  Then, in 2013, he mounted a successful campaign for Mayor and was inaugurated Mayor in July, 2013.  Tragically, Honorable Chokwe Lumumba died unexpectedly in February, 2014, after only eight months in office; as he was just in the early stages of implementing his progressive  grassroots programs to improve the lives of the citizens of Jackson, MS.

Honorable Chokwe Lumumba‘s son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, agreed to run for Mayor in the special election held in 2014 to fill the Mayoral position vacated by his father’s untimely death. Although he and many supporters ran a hard-fought campaign on short notice, he was narrowly defeated by the a local minister, Tony Yarber.

Tony Yarber is widely considered to have been a disaster as Mayor.  His first term expires this year.   The Mayoral position was considered wide open, so nine candidates, including Chokwe Antar Lumumba,  filed for the Democratic  nomination for mayor.  The conventional experts and pundits considered Chokwe Antar Lumumba to be the favorite, but repeatedly assumed there would have to be a run-off election between Chokwe Antar Lumumba and one of the other candidates, probably state legislator John Horhn. The latest pre-election polls showed Chokwe Antar Lumumba with around 30%of the vote; Horhn with around 20%; and the rest of the candidates trailing.

Chokwe  Antar Lumumba, with the energetic assistance of his sister and campaign manager Rukia Lumumba, put together a powerful grassroots campaign, with the participation of dozens of Jackson citizens, together with national assistance from organized labor, and progressive organizations, including several members of the National Lawyers Guild.  Chokwe Antar pledged to implement many of the most progressive  elements of his father’s platform, including the encouragement of cooperative and employee-owned businesses; and a requirement that city contractors hire a certain percentage of Jackson residents.

Yesterday, May, 2, the residents of Jackson went to the polls.  They issued a resounding statement that they did not need a run-off election to decide who should be the Democratic Party’s nominee for Mayor.  Unofficial returns, with 100% of the precincts reporting, showed Chokwe Antar Lumumba with 55% of the vote.  His closest challenger, John Hohrn, attracted only 21% of the vote.  The incumbent Mayor, Tony Yarber, received only 5% of the vote.  Since Chokwe Antar received over 50% of the vote, there will be no run-off.  John Hohrn has conceded.  It is anticipated that Chokwe Antar Lumumba will coast into the Mayor’s seat at the general election on June 6, and be inaugurated several weeks after that.

Related: 2/26/14 | Losing Chokwe Lumumba

Posted in NLG Blog.