“Politics as usual” received a shocking blow to the face in the capital of conservative Mississipi on Tuesday after Chokwe Antar Lumumba took a vast stride toward becoming mayor of the City of Jackson in a landslide primary victory over eight other contenders. Carried to victory on the back of a revolutionary, grassroots effort, the 34-year-old Black attorney’s platform can be summed up with three simple slogans: “Free the land” and “serve the people,” “by any means necessary.”
Lumumba received an overwhelming 55 percent of the vote, soundly thrashing his opponents – the closest of whom received 21 percent – and flipping the expectations of local observers who predicted a low turnout. The clean triumph clears the path for Lumumba’s transformative agenda to build a city based on the a platform of human rights and political, economic and social empowerment. Lumumba believes people should be granted their right to jobs, education, decent infrastructure and a restorative justice agenda that provides holistic solutions to crime and violence in the community.
Before officially becoming mayor, Lumumba will face the “business-minded,” Trump-supporting Republican candidate, Jason Wells, a security guard employee of the Jackson Police Department who many expect will be crushed in the June 6 general election.
“We have two options,” Lumumba told supporters following the primary win, according to the Jackson Free Press. “We have the option of economics by the people and for the people or economics by a few people for themselves. And so we’re making the decision that we’re going to have a solidarity economy that works for all of Jackson.”
Lumumba is the son of two life-long community organizers: Nubia Lumumba and former Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, whose untimely death in 2014 came a mere eight months after winning an election in the overwhelmingly Black city. The two late revolutionary nationalists co-founded the New Afrikan People’s Organization in 1984, which later gave birth to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in 1990, a mass organization geared toward the self-determination struggle of the African diaspora within the United States.
The group’s project, Cooperation Jackson, describes itself as being centered on organizing and building the political power of the working class in general. It also works alongside “unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from Black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.”
“Cooperation Jackson believes that we can replace the current socio-economic system of exploitation, exclusion and the destruction of the environment with a proven democratic alternative,” the community initiative’s website says. It also describes its movement as built on “equity, cooperation, worker democracy, and environmental sustainability to provide meaningful living wage jobs, reduce racial inequities and build community wealth.”
Lumumba’s win sets an example for grassroots forces in the U.S. intent on breaking the neoliberal capitalist and pro-imperialist grip on the country’s social movements and Black political class. Instead, the trend represented by Lumumba hopes to advance a perspective of popular governance stressing solidarity and the self-defense and empowerment of oppressed nationalities and working people in the United States.