UPDATE: 2/26/14, 11:20 P.M. EST
Jackson, MS Councilman Charles Tillman has been sworn in as acting mayor until the city council votes on an interim mayor, reports WAPT.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of the promising new mayor of our Capital City, the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba,” said Rickey Cole, the chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “His young administration has been a great beacon of hope for so many of us. He was just beginning to make an effective start tackling the long-neglected challenged faced by our Capital City.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant released the following statement:
“Deborah and I are shocked and saddened by the news of Mayor Lumumba’s passing and are praying for his loved ones,” Bryant said. “Just a short time ago, I had the opportunity to join the mayor in a church pew as we welcomed a new development to the city. His enthusiasm for Jackson will be deeply missed.”
UPDATE: 2/25/14, 8:34 P.M. EST
Lumumba’s chief of staff, Safiya Omari, released the following statement:
“It is with a heavy heart, that we inform you that our beloved brother, Civil Rights Activist, Human Rights Activist, and Mayor Chokwe Lumumba has passed away. More details will be made available in the near future. For now, we ask that you pray for his children and family.”
Mayor Lumumba’s son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, spoke to members of the press from St. Dominic Hospital:
“Thanks everyone for the condolences which have been expressed and all the well-wishes. My father has passed today.
“And we thank you for all the well-wishes which we have received. At this time, what we ask for the most is prayers. For we believe in the power of the Lord. We do not have fear because the Lord has not given us the spirit of fear.
“I thank the city of Jackson. I thank you for giving my father the opportunity to serve the city. It has given him great joy. He has enjoyed working for you.
“My father dedicated his life to service and working on behalf of all people in serving the interest of Jackson. So we are honored in the legacy he has left. And we thank you for that, allowing him to serve.
“At this time, there is no cause of death; there is no official cause of death, and we do not know. So we can’t provide you one.
“We just ask that you respect the wishes of the family and give us an opportunity to grieve and put everything in order. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Though no official cause of death has been released, Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell said that Mayor Lumumba checked into the hospital Tuesday afternoon with chest pains:
“There were all kinds of complications going on, but ultimately it was heart failure,” Whitwell said to the Clarion Ledger. “We’re just all stricken with grief. We really had enjoyed the moment of him setting a positive tone for the city and taking up difficult issues in the city and setting a vision.”
Chokwe Lumumba, the recently elected mayor of Jackson, MS, has died at the age of 66 years old.
Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham Stewart has confirmed his death.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Lumumba served four years on the Jackson City Council before running for mayor. He was elected on June 4, 2013, winning the general election with 86 percent of the vote.
“I’m just delighted. I feel wonderfully well about the people and their vote. Our slogan has been the people must decide and the people gave us an outstanding mandate today for positive change in the city of Jackson,” Lumumba said after the results were announced. “We intend to work diligently and put all our hearts and efforts into that and we’re going to be calling upon the people to work with us. We’re not working by ourselves.”
See Mayor Lumumba’s inaugural speech below:
Lumumba spent part of the ’70s and ’80s as vice-president of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for “an independent predominantly black government” in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery.
“The provisional government of Republic of New Afrika was always a group that believed in human rights for human beings,” Lumumba told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I think it has been miscast in many ways. It has never been any kind of racist group or ‘hate white’ group in any way…. It was a group which was fighting for human rights for black people in this country and at the same time supporting the human rights around the globe.”
As an attorney, Lumumba represented legendary activist, poet, actor and Hip-Hop artist Tupac Shakur in several cases, and his godmother, Assata Shakur, whom Lumumba called a “Black Panther heroine.”
Lumumba was also founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and his platform called for a move towards Black self-determination in the Deep South.
Lumumba referred to himself as a “Fannie Lou Hamer Democrat,” a nod to the fearless civil rights leader who organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to challenge the White supremacist Dixiecrats that ruled the Land of Jim Crow at the time.
We send our heartfelt condolences to Mayor Lumumba’s family, friends and the great city of Jackson, MS. May his revolutionary spirit live on through the community he loved so much.
This is a developing story. Check back with NewsOne for updates.