Passing of the Torch: Chokwe Lumumba Set Example for Freedom Fighters to Follow

Chokwe Lumumba photoTherefore I pledge to struggle without cease, until We have won sovereignty. I pledge to struggle without fail until we have built a better condition than the world has yet know. – excerpt from New Afrikan Creed

Jackson, Ms - Chokwe Lumumba was a man with a life goal of bringing hope, liberation, equality, fairness and civil rights to African-Americans and their communities.

Just as he embarked on his dream of building a new kind of community in Jackson, Mississippi, the 66-year old Black Nationalist and mayor of Jackson died suddenly after experiencing chest pains.

News of his death sent shock waves through Black communities all over the country, including Freedom Fighters across Texas and Louisiana.

“Chokwe was an extraordinary man and we are truly devastated by his loss,” said Thomas Jenkins who knew and worked with Lumumba on community issues in Louisiana, Texas and across the South for over two decades. “This was a man who believed in his mission of liberating Black people and was well on his way to including and opening up things for working class people like people have never seen before.”

The national civil rights community took note when Lumumba became mayor last year of Mississippi’s capital city — a place that had seen its share of violence agains Blacks during the civil rights movement.

“He was a man that made a full connection to the people,” said Ashante Chimurenga, who worked with him on local and national initiatives. “He touched everyone at every level and in a simple but power way wnt into politics and kept his values and principles intact.”

Some of those important principles included self-determination and developing ways for Blacks to  be land owners and home owners in the community.

Chokwe Lumumba was born August 2, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He is the second of eight children born to Lucien and Priscilla Francis Taliaferro. Mayor Lumumba earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He later finished first in his law school freshman class before graduating cum laude from Wayne State University Law School.

Lumumba is a nationally renowned attorney who is licensed in Mississippi, Michigan and U.S. Federal Courts. He has represented clients in over 16 jurisdictions, including Canada and the Choctaw Court.  Lumumba has won settlements and/or judgments for victims of medical malpractice, employment discrimination, sexual harassment and police misconduct. He has worked in high profile cases such as the representation of the late Tupac Shakur.

In 2011, he helped win the release of the Scott Sisters who had served 16 years of double life prison sentences for an $11.00 (eleven-dollar) robbery which they did not commit. He also successfully represented Lance Parker who was falsely accused of assault during the 1992 Los Angeles uprising which followed the brutal beating of Rodney King.

“Chokwe Lumumba was a revolutionary Black Nationalist attorney and servant to his people and great supporter of the National Black United Front (NBUF),” said Kofi Taharka, leader of NBUF, Houston Chapter. “Study his life, it is an example for all of us.”

In 1985, he was part of a legal team that uncovered evidence demonstrating how the FBI targeted and framed late Black Panther Geronimo Pratt. He also defended former Black Panther Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, late rapper Tupac Shakur and represented activists protesting the beating of the late Rodney King.

Lumumba’s activism began early. On the day after Martin Luther King Jr. died, he took part in a student takeover of a campus building at Western Michigan University, where he was a student. He and others were demanding more black educators and scholarships for black students. He also pushed for more black studies programs at colleges and universities in the Midwest.

He worked with Julian Bond and Dick Gregory as a leader with the Republic of New Afrika, a social movement that proposed an independent black country in the southeastern United States.

Krystal Muhammad, National Chair of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, said she met him after Hurricane Katrina and described Mayor Chokwe Lumumba as a teacher, trainer, role model and inspiring mentor.

“He was a strategist and a great thinker,” she said. “His deeds followed his words and we celebrate his leadership and his active interest in taking the concerns of African people into the political realm.”

Some of his ideas for his city were launched on July 1, 2013  with his mayoral administration in Jackson. It was started with a cry for “One City, One Aim, One Destiny!”

His goal was to bring our city to unprecedented levels of growth and prosperity to Jackson – progress that was tied directly to his ability to lead the city in rebuilding roads, water, drainage and sewer systems.

“Jackson was an example of a city run by a Black Nationalist using a true Malcolm X grassroots approach,” said N’Cobra activist Diane Kimble. “He never strayed for his mission and will forever be a true example of  defining a movement.”

She said his work educating the Black community and helping Black people understand “Reparations” is immeasurable and priceless.

Lumumba also had a plan for creating new jobs, housing and businesses for the people of Jackson through infrastructure revitalization and had hoped to use it as a as the platform to launch economic

“He was a fierce freedom fighter and warrior for the people,” Jenkins said. “He wanted to work across the spectrum of race and backgrounds to help bring justice to a people and give us a chance to get out of the basement and see the first floor.”

Southern Christian Leadership Conference- Fort Worth Leader Kiev Tatum remembers how Chokwe Lumumba took time to come to Fort Worth in 2009 to protest against Police Chief Mike Halstead and served as guest speaker on Martin Luther King Day in the wake of the Michael Jacob Jr taser death.

“Mayor Chokwe was my friend,” Tatum said. “He will be missed, however his legacy of posterity will last a lifetime. We must continue his work.”

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