Chokwe Lumumba

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A Revolution of Ideas: Economic Democracy and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s Legacy One Year Later

By Dara Cooper, Contributing Editor, Environment, Food, and Sustainability

“If you don’t love the people, sooner or later you will betray the people.”

“I will say again….We’re about to have a revolution here. A revolution of ideas. We’re about to have new ideas. Good ideas…something that’s going to change the situation for us. We should never be afraid of new ideas. Of good ideas.”

“We have a choice to make. To create an economy for the people, by the people. Or to continue with an economy for the few, for the benefit of themselves.”

-Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

Just over a year ago last February 2014, the world lost an incredible activist, organizer, father, and mentor—Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba who came to be known as “America’s revolutionary mayor”—due to a very sudden death. Although we gained Baba Chokwe as an ancestor,   after only seven months in office, the loss of Mayor Lumumba came as a sudden blow to activists, dreamers and loved ones all over the country. The significance of his revolutionary work, and most notably his term in office, was and will be forever remembered. With scant resources, a radical agenda and revolutionary heart, his candidacy appeared to be a tremendous long shot to most. A strong grassroots strategy that mobilized the masses proved that the power of the people is more than an ideology. The election of Mayor Lumumba was a real life example of the true power of democratic processes and the viability of a radical agenda.

In Memory of Chokwe Lumumba: Social Justice Warrior

By Jim Van Sweden, Director, College Communications, Kalamazoo College
Reposted from Kalamazoo College News and Events

Chokwe Lumumba ’69, mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, died on February 25, 2014. He was 66. He came to K from Detroit, Michigan, as Edwin Taliaferro. He majored in political science, played football and basketball, and was instrumental in the creation and growth of the College’s Black Student Organization. He was profoundly affected by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which partly inspired his lifelong dedication to human rights and social justice.

Lumumba changed his name in 1969. He took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from the African independence leader Patrice Lumumba. His loss is widely mourned, and a news obituary appeared in the February 26 New York Times.

Lumumba moved to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1971 to work in the civil rights movement there, then returned to Michigan where he earned his law degree (Wayne State University) and continued the fight for political and economic liberation of all people. He returned to Jackson in 1988 and spent the next two decades as a tireless defense attorney and human rights advocate, representing mostly African-American defendants.