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The Hinds County coroner and city officials confirmed his death.

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“Our father passed today (Tuesday) and we thank you for all the well wishes for which we have received,” said the mayor’s son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “What we ask for 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.”

City Councilman Melvin Priester said Lumumba died Tuesday at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson.

The Jackson City Council was meeting Tuesday evening for a regularly scheduled meeting. Council members began the meeting with a prayer, but almost immediately after that, City Councilman Charles Tillman recessed the meeting until Thursday morning.

Images: Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

About an hour later, Tillman was sworn in as acting mayor, a position he will hold until the City Council votes to approve an interim mayor.

Lumumba, 66, became mayor in July. He defeated incumbent Harvey Johnson in the Democratic primary and then went on to defeat Jonathan Lee in the general election.

“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.”

Gov. Phil Bryant also issued a statement Tuesday evening after hearing of Lumumba’s death.

“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.”

One of the triumphs of Lumumba’s time as mayor came last month, with the 90 percent approval from voters of a 1 percent sales tax increase, which goes into effect Saturday. The revenue will go to fix Jackson’s water, sewage and street issues.

Lumumba had previously served on the City Council and worked as an attorney, often championing civil rights causes.

Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro, and changed his name in 1969, when he was in his early 20s. He said he took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

He moved to Jackson in 1971 as a human rights activist. He went to law school in Michigan in the mid-1970s and returned to Jackson in 1988.

Lumumba had battled cancer and when asked, said he was a cancer survivor.

Lumumba is the second Jackson mayor to die in office in recent years. Frank Melton died of cardiac arrest in 2009, shortly after polls closed for the Democratic primary. He was at the end of his first term as mayor.

After Melton died, the City Council appointed then-Council President Leslie McLemore as interim mayor. Johnson went on to win the election.


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.