Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s Election Marks a New Era for Jackson—And for the South, that’s the title of a piece on inthesetimes.com that looks at very exciting times ahead for the town and maybe the whole of the South.
Below is an excerpt from the article but read the full piece here.
“People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’.”
The words from the Curtis Mayfield song rang out at Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s victory party on Tuesday night. By 8:30, it was clear Lumumba would win over 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff to win the Democratic primary for mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. With only a perfunctory general election in his way (to take place in June), Lumumba will almost certainly be the city’s next mayor.
The election places Jackson—population 170,000, 80 percent black—in the vanguard of progressive politics, offering clear lessons for progressive forces across the country: First, that seizing political power at the municipal level is a critical step toward any change on a national level. And second, that there’s no time to spare—organizing to win local power can start now.
In Jackson itself, the election heralds a new era. Like the country as a whole, Jackson is beset by numerous crises: economic inequality, poverty, budget cuts, crumbling road and water infrastructure, predatory contractors and financiers.
Perhaps no mayor nationwide has gone so far as Lumumba in suggesting that the solutions for these crises lie not in the ministrations of technocratic policy advisers, but in the people themselves—in working class and Black people, in people actively marginalized by the political status quo.
To paraphrase Fannie Lou Hamer, Jackson was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ebony Lumumba, the candidate’s wife, quoted Matthew 20:16 “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” “Mississippi has been last for too long. Jackson has been last for too long.”
Lumumba and his allies in Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Cooperation Jackson, smarting from the close 2014 loss to corporate-backed neoliberal Tony Yarber, had spent years honing deep organizing in the city, contacting as many people as possible with the Lumumba agenda for “an economics by the people and for the people [rather than] an economics that benefits the few.”
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