How Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the Late Mississippi Mayor’s Son, Will Continue his Father’s Work

Chokwe Antar Lumumba
Chokwe Antar Lumumba


The barren landscape which our ancestors traversed as enslaved people in various reincarnations—from the Antebellum era to Jim Crow—is ground zero for beautiful Black radicalism and truth-telling. From Fannie Lou Hammer to Medgar Evers, the resilience, brilliance, passion and determination of Mississippi’s revolutionaries have served as a collective blueprint for freedom fighters following in their footsteps. And into their vast legacies steps Chokwe Antar Lumumba, son of late, legendary human rights attorney Chokwe Lumumba.

When Chokwe Lumumba died on February 25, less than nine months after being elected the mayor of Jackson, MS, a brief moment of panic and confusion engulfed the Magnolia State’s capital city. Who would unapologetically work to dismantle White supremacy in a city full of good ole’ boys for whom politics is just a means to maintain racial and economic disparities which cripple the majority Black city? Who would ensure that the goals of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Jackson People’s Assembly—to promote self-determination, cooperative economics, participatory democracy and social equity—would be realized?

And, then, the rain came.

In African lore, rain means good fortune. So when Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced that he was running to fill his father’s mayoral seat on a rainy day in March, it was reassurance that The People’s Movement would forge ahead. At just 31-years-old, and still grieving for his father who had died just two weeks before, Chokwe Antar strapped a city, a people, The People, on his back and vowed to fight for the progress set into motion by Chokwe Lumumba and MXGM.

“I am not running off emotion,” Chokwe Antar assured his social media followers. “I’m not running off a name. I am running off understanding. I understand the principles that must guide us at this time. I understand that I don’t have to be all-knowing or sit in an ivory tower but can allow the people into the process and trust in them because I know the people are smart. We must continue moving Jackson forward on the upward trajectory that it has experienced the last 7 months. We must continue that vision and that movement. What we do know from scripture is that Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness, but, it was Joshua that led them to the Promised Land. Jackson has a Promised Land and we will get there together.”

From the moment that Chokwe Antar announced his candidacy, there was a desperate sprint to stop the flow of power from City Hall to the people of Jackson. Bigots questioned his religion and purposely mangled the pronunciation of his name, just as they did to his father. The city caved to pressure from “concerned” residents and painted over a mural created to honor the late Chokwe Lumumba. His mantra, The People’s rallying cry of “One City, One Aim, One Destiny” was erased, allegedly out of fear that it would tilt the election in his son’s favor. But it clearly was intended to send a message that Jackson would be back to business as usual after a short detour into progressivism.

That message, however, was received and just as swiftly discarded.

The late Mayor Lumumba was dedicated to Black liberation, and as such, did not place his faith or the lives of Black people in the hands of a political system designed to keep us in chattel slavery.  When he was asked during an interview, why, then, did he run for office, his answer was clear:

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