The Real Lumumba: Racism and Jackson - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

The Real Lumumba: Racism and Jackson

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Lumumba's involvement in seemingly radical groups, paired with videos displayed on social media, have lead to many Jackson residents questioning the new mayor's intentions for the city. Lumumba's involvement in seemingly radical groups, paired with videos displayed on social media, have lead to many Jackson residents questioning the new mayor's intentions for the city.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

After months of campaigning Jackson's newest mayor is on the job. Chokwe Lumumba was born in 1948 as Edwin Finley Taliaferro, but that soon changed.

In a one on one in depth discussion, Mayor Lumumba explained the meaning of his chosen name, along with his stance on race relations and how to better the City of Jackson.

"Lumumba means gifted. Chokwe means hunter. So, I'm a gifted hunter," explained Lumumba.

The "gifted hunter," as his name implies, soon went to work, hunting for human and civil rights.

Lumumba became a part of the Republic of New Afrika in 1971. The group, by it's very definition, called for the creation of an independent African-American majority country within the U.S.

"We had things like Jackson State University students being murdered. And so, it was important to us to do what international law allows you to do, to state your cause to the world. Many of the things in which we were achieving or attempting to achieve through the Republic of New Afrika we now can do through voting in Mississippi," states the mayor.

Lumumba's involvement in seemingly radical groups, paired with videos displayed on social media, have lead to many Jackson residents questioning the new mayor's intentions for the city.

One Jackson resident writes, "The real problem with Mister Lumumba is that he is promoting racism. Isn't it bad enough in Mississippi? Mississippi will never change for the people until a colorblind mayor is elected that has the freedom to do what is needed."

Mayor Lumumba, however, is convinced he and his political team can make an impact for the better.

"People who talk about that are never really going to impact on the real racism, because they don't have the understanding that racism still exists," Lumumba retorts. "A racist, first of all, is a person that either systemically or individually victimizes someone and actually imposes some kind of power on them, deprivation on them because of their race. But, that's really not our problem. Our problem is that there are people that deprive people of jobs because of their race. Our problem is that there are people who put people in jail because of their race. Our problem is that there are people that use force or energy to hurt people because of their race."

Since Lumumba took office July 1, according to police, the capital city has had three murders, 51 armed robberies, and 141 house burglaries.

"I had a son, older son, who was shot in the head. So, I'm not soft on crime at all. The number one problem with crime is people in economic and educational systems. I know where you find those two conditions: bad economic conditions and bad educational conditions," claims Lumumba. "It doesn't matter what difference the color the people is they have crime. And so what we have to do is try to eliminate those things, and that will help eliminate crime."

As an attorney he's been called radical for his civil and human rights efforts.

"Mr. Lumumba never lynched anybody. But, there have been lynchings in Mississippi. Mr. Lumumba never fired anybody off their job because of their color, but that does exist in Mississippi today. And so what we have to do to get to the base of it is recognize its existence first of all, and once we recognize the existence, we can come up with ways to solve it," says Lumumba.

The mayor says in order for any change to take place in Jackson, everyone must move past misconceptions of him.

"I think that they think that I'm a real, ah, hard to get along with person, or I'm a real fireball. And they're a little scared of me, okay, but really when you get to know me, I'm very easy to get along with. I'm not the kind of mayor that doesn't have some sort of empathy for folks who can't get a job, and so I think that people need to know that. I think that in order to succeed ultimately all people have to come together," reveals Lumumba.

Mayor Lumumba says he only has a positive outlook on the future.

"[Being mayor] is an opportunity to participate in the leadership of a great city and some great people and to bring us into a new era of success and fulfillment," he adds.

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