The Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi Chokwe Lumumba has died. Reports began coming in this evening on the unexpected death of this long time activist. Affiliated with the Republic of New Afrika, Mr. Lumumba only won his seat as mayor back in June of 2013. His election was seen as a victory for Black politics. It showed that an open progressive candidate can win in a a space with a Black plurality. In an era of increasingly dire circumstances for Black America, a model of Black politics that can win elections is vital. Unfortunately, the people of Jackson and those of us Northerners who wanted to see what was possible will not have the opportunity.
Speaking politically, what Lumumba was able to pull off meant something. Those of us who study the body politic have it constantly drilled into our consciousness that a coalition, not necessarily African-American focus is what wins elections. For Lumumba to be able to become mayor in the Deep South, that was a big deal. In terms of the big picture, one of the side effects of gentrification is that it thins out the Black electoral base in major cities, making it more difficult to win elections without a broad overture to pluralistic, mainstream politics. The Lumumba model can be the beginning of the answer for this very real demographic challenge.
There are so many other things that Lumumba was known for, but this one aspect of his legacy that folks really should look at. Chokwe Lumumba was 66 years old.