Mar 04 2014

The Legacy of Jackson’s Revolutionary Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

The world and the United States lost a revolutionary leader last week. His name was Chokwe Lumumba. Lumumba – who was only 8 months into his tenure as Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi – died unexpectedly of heart failure at the age of only 66.

In a city indelibly stained by its racist past, the former civil rights attorney was a powerful champion for Jackson’s poorest residents. Along with promoting workers cooperatives and community development, Lumumba’s vision focused on preventing gentrification, which he called “nothing but a war on the people who live in the city.”

Lumumba grew up in 1950s Jim Crow-era Detroit. He was deeply influenced by his mother who was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Lumumba was politically active throughout his years in college and Law School, starting the Malcolm X Center at Wayne State University Law School.

As a civil rights attorney, he successfully freed the Scott Sisters who were wrongly accused of robbery and imprisoned for almost 16 years. He also worked on the case of Geronimo Pratt and was keenly aware of how politically and economically marginalized African Americans were in the U.S. Lumumba also served as Vice President of the Republic of New Afrika, a group which proposed setting up an independent Black state.

GUEST: Ajamu Baraka, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a columnist for Black Agenda Report.

Find out more about Ajamu Baraka at www.ajamubaraka.com.

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