Chokwe Antar Lumumba Wins Jackson’s Democratic Mayoral Primary

By Sameer Rao May 03, 2017

Defense attorney and progressive activist Chokwe Antar Lumumba won yesterday’s (May 2) Democratic mayoral primary election in Jackson, Mississippi, after securing 55 percent of the votes.

The Clarion-Ledger reported yesterday that the 34-year-old’s victory over eight other candidates, including current mayor Tony Yarber, almost guarantees that he will become Jackson’s mayor in November’s general election. State election data shows that about 71 percent of Hinds County, where most of Jackson lies, voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and the city’s previous six mayors were Black Democrats.

Lumumba’s father, Chokwe Lumumba, was a human rights activist and lawyer who represented jailed Black Panther Party members, anti-police brutality protesters and even rapper Tupac Shakur in cases throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Before that, the senior Lumumba was part of the Republic of New Afrika, a Black nationalist organization that advocated for an independent Black republic culled from Southern states. He won Jackson’s mayoral election in 2013 on the promise of widespread structural change to empower the city’s marginalized residents, but died less than eight months into his term. 

The Clarion-Ledger reports that the junior Lumumba helped craft many of his father’s policies, and he brought a similar perspective to his own activist work. The Nation notes that he marched in solidarity with Black auto plant workers at the March on Mississippi and co-founded the Mississippi Human Rights Collective, which fought to remove Confederate insignia from the state’s flag. His current campaign seeks to create a citizen review board for law enforcement, incubate new business development and reform educational pedagogy in public schools. 

Lumumba is not the only progressive Black politician who won a mayoral primary yesterday. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that city councilor Yvette Simpson, whose campaign promises to increase affordable housing and invest in public transportation infrastructure, won that city’s primary with 45 percent of the vote. And Jamael Brown also won his primary, putting him a step closer to being the next mayor of Youngstown, Ohio.