by Asha Bandele
Even as we are still reeling from the unexpected death of our beloved Chokwe Lumumba, his children know that the best way for us to honor Chokwe is to continue to do his work. Central to Chokwe’s vision was to lead the development of a Black-led city in the South that was rooted in true democracy and a deep swell of compassion for the people who live there.
At the time of his death, Chokwe was doing what his detractors said he couldn’t: calling people together, despite differences, to work for the common good and interests of the citizens of Jackson. The 1 percent sales tax he was able to achieve will ensure the necessary building of the municipal infrastructure neglected for years. When I traveled to Mississippi to bid farewell to a man who had been a mentor – a movement – in my life, I met an elder who told me that Chokwe did more in eight months than others had done in eight years.
The work must continue.
Last Tuesday, after deep counsel with family and Chokwe’s closest political advisors in government and life, his son, Chokwe Antar, an attorney and senior partner in the successful law firm that his father built, took up the mantle. With hundreds standing in the rain, Rukia Lumumba said of her family, “My father was the guide. My brother is the light.” And with that declaration, her brother, Antar, supported by family, friends and all of his father’s colleagues and advisors, announced his candidacy for mayor of the City of Jackson, willing to step in and move forward his father’s vision of justice and equality for the people of Jackson.
The best way for us to honor Chokwe is to continue to do his work.
We must join those who support him. And we must do it today. The election is on April 8, and without the funds needed to support Antar’s campaign today, we risk the gains made in the city – not just the infrastructure building and the spirit of cooperation but the work done in City Council, including getting the first ever anti-racial profiling ordinance passed, and all the work that is poised to happen: the economic undergirding of the most vulnerable and the fair application of the law that will ensure a truly safer city.
I have known Chokwe Antar since he was a teenager and watched him grow into a brilliant man, loving husband and, as of yesterday, a proud father. He was the closest of advisors and collaborators with his father when they successfully got the Scott Sisters out of prison and was my guide when I covered the story for Essence magazine.
On the campaign trail and during his father’s tenure, Antar walked in step with his father, helping to build out a strategy and vision for the people of Jackson, while ensuring the law practice thrived. When he ascends to the office of mayor, he will do so not only standing on the shoulders of his father and his mother, Nubia, but standing beside the dedicated and wise counsel his father pulled together to ensure a Jackson Rising.
The election is on April 8, and without the funds needed to support Antar’s campaign today, we risk the gains made in the city – not just the infrastructure building and the spirit of cooperation but the work done in City Council, including getting the first ever anti-racial profiling ordinance passed, and all the work that is poised to happen: the economic undergirding of the most vulnerable and the fair application of the law that will ensure a truly safer city.
Join me in supporting Chokwe Antar for mayor of Jackson! Join me in supporting the people of Jackson, who for too long have suffered and deserve leadership that is ethical, just and guided by an unbreakable bond and abiding love.
Please make your donation here today. Help Chokwe Antar lead Jackson into becoming a model city, a mighty demonstration for what the rest of our cities might be if they were governed with an eye on justice, not on simply four more years.
Thank you all so much for making your donation today! Thank you for sharing this with your networks today to encourage their support! And most of all, thank you for believing that a just, compassionate and healthy Jackson – a model for the nation – will rise!
Asha Bandele, editor-at-large at Essence magazine, poet and author of “The Prisoner’s Wife” and “Something Like Beautiful,” political activist and community organizer, can be reached via Twitter at @ashabandele and on Facebook. Tweet #LumumbaLegacy.