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RIP Brother Lumumba - long time activist and fighter for human rights, who won a special election for Mayor of Jackson in July.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba dies
Tillman sworn in as interim mayor

"Our father passed today (Tuesday) and we thank you for all the well wishes for which we have received," said the mayor's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba. "What we ask for most is prayers, for we believe in the power of the Lord. We do not have fear because the Lord has not given us the spirit of fear."

City Councilman Melvin Priester said Lumumba died Tuesday at St. Dominic's Hospital in Jackson...

Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro, and changed his name in 1969, when he was in his early 20s. He said he took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

He moved to Jackson in 1971 as a human rights activist. He went to law school in Michigan in the mid-1970s and returned to Jackson in 1988.

Lumumba had battled cancer and when asked, said he was a cancer survivor

Here is an interview with him from Democracy Now, last June

Just days before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, the city’s voters have elected longtime black nationalist organizer and attorney Chokwe Lumumba to become mayor. Describing himself as a "Fannie Lou Hamer Democrat," Lumumba surprised many political observers by winning the Democratic primary, despite being outspent five to one. He went on to easily win this week’s general election.

Over the past four decades, Lumumba has been deeply involved in numerous political and legal campaigns. As an attorney, his clients have included former Black Panther Assata Shakur and the late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. As a political organizer, Lumumba served for years as vice president of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for "an independent predominantly black government" in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery. He also helped found the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. "People should take a note of Jackson, because we have suffered some of the worst kinds of abuses in history," Lumumba says. "But we’re about to make some advances and some strides in the development of human rights and the protection of human rights that I think have not been seen in other parts of the country."

He was born on Aug 2, 1947 in Detroit Michigan.
As a young man he witnessed police brutality. His mother would stand with her children on the neighborhood corners collecting money for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and she impressed on Lumumba the important role of political activism and civil rights. The death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968 had a deep effect on Lumumba and the day following King's assassination he participated in the occupation of a university building at Western Michigan University. The occupation protested the lack of African American faculty among other academic demands. He majored in Political Science and graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1969 where he formed the Black United Front to advocate for African American studies in Midwestern higher educational institutions. Lumumba was elected to the cabinet of the Republic of New Africa in 1971 as the second vice president. He was in the same position when the capital of the provisional government was moved to Hinds County, Mississippi and dedicated on March 28, 1971. Lumumba was in the lead car with Alajo Abegbalola which was halted by the Bolton police on that day when the "Land Celebration" was set to take place marking the establishment of the capital of the Republic of New Africa. In 1972 Lumumba was appointed by the Republic of New Africa president as the Minister of Justice to succeed Attorney William E. Miller Jr.
He went on to a legal career, and then into politics.
Lumumba finished first in his law school class and graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1975. While there he advocated for fair academic grading reforms. He created the Malcolm X Center and was a staff attorney in the Detroit Public Defenders Office. He formed a law firm in Detroit in 1978 and successfully defended the Pontiac Illinois prisoners. Lumumba was initially barred from representing Fulani Sunni Ali in relation to the Brinks robbery case when she was jailed and given a $500,000 bond. Many national legal groups protested the barring of Lumumba from representing the prisoner and the characterization of him as a terrorist due to his membership in the Republic of New Africa. In 1983 while handling the Brinks case he was held in contempt by the federal judge for his press comments.[8] He worked on the Geronimo Pratt case and encouraged black youth to eschew gang activities and instead to participate in global actions such as the protest of Apartheid in South Africa. The decade of the 1980s witnessed a large increase of imprisoned African Americans in the United States and Lumumba was successful in prison litigation and in the leadership of the New Afrikan independence movement. In September 1987 at Harvard Law School, Lumumba, a co-founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, addressed a conference sponsored by the National Conference of Black Lawyers on the theme of the constitutional neglect of the needs of enslaved persons.

In 1988 he returned to Jackson, Mississippi and three years later was granted the right to practice law. He was a public defender on contract with the City of Jackson's consortium to represent the indigent citizens of the municipality. In 1994 Lumumba sued to have a public defender contract voided. In 2000 Judge Swan Yerger dismissed a lawsuit filed against a police officer and Lumumba was publicly reprimanded by the Mississippi Bar after the judge found him in contempt. In a Leake County case he was found in contempt and publicly reprimanded. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, he served three days in the county jail when bond was refused. He also lost his license to practice law for six months. He was a well known human rights and criminal defense attorney and was licensed in Michigan and Mississippi. He preferred to replace the current charter for the City of Jackson with a human rights charter.

None of the pundits, or political big-wigs expected him to win the election for mayor.  He was not the "annointed" candidate.

Grassroots organizing and the love and respect he had from "folks" got him elected.

On May 21, 2013 Lumumba defeated Jonathan Lee by over 3,000 votes and bested his opponent in five out of the seven municipal wards. With negligible opposition in the June 4th general election, he easily became the mayor-elect for the capital and largest city of Mississippi. One day after the electoral victory, Lumumba questioned the significance of Christoper Columbus as a 'discoverer of America'. He won the general election on June 4, 2013 and was sworn in as Mayor on July 1, 2013.

I first met Brother Chokwe in 1971 when members of the Young Lords and the Panthers did joint political work with the RNA.

He never stopped fighting for the people.

I'bae Brother Chokwe.

Rest in Peace knowing you did what needed to be done, and others will carry on your work.

Originally posted to Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 06:31 PM PST.

Also republished by Black Kos community and Barriers and Bridges.

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