Mayor Chokwe Lummba

It is with great sadness that LDF mourns the passing of Chokwe Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. Mayor Lumumba was a revered civil rights lawyer, a human rights activist, and, as the co-founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a true revolutionary. He devoted himself completely to principles of freedom and self-determination for black people.

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi and Americans all around the country celebrated his election and eagerly followed the promising changes he made within the city’s political culture. His election as Mayor of Jackson was a powerful testament to the evolution of that city and to the evolution of Mr. Lumumba himself. Mayor Lumumba focused on infrastructure investment with the same principle that guided him throughout his life: self-determination.

“We have to talk about equitable development,” Mayor Lumumba said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Each portion of the population should be able to develop, and no portion of the population should be given any preferential treatment.”

In an interview with Democracy Now shortly after his election, he said “we’re about to make some advances and the protection of human rights that I think have not been seen in other parts of the country.”

As a civil rights lawyer, he won victories for his clients in medical malpractice, police brutality, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. He secured the 2011 release of the Scott sisters, two African-American women who had received life sentences in 1996 for an armed robbery that netted $11.

In addition to his life as a public figure, Mayor Lumumba was also a lovely, compassionate human being and devoted family man. He coached youth basketball and attended the Word and Worship Church. 

The passing of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is a devastating loss not only to the residents of Jackson Mississippi whose well-being he devoted himself to; but also to Americans around the country eager for progressive changes and advances in civil rights, particularly for the most vulnerable of our population. He will be sorely missed, but his spirit lives on, and LDF is proud to have called Mayor Lumumba a colleague and comrade in the struggle for racial justice and equality.