By: Trevor Loudon
Who is Chokwe Lumumba? Why should anyone but the citizens of Jackson, Mississippi care about their new Mayor?
Elected in May, Mr. Lumumba is already making his mark on the city, charting a new direction – one that may have implications far beyond Jackson, indeed far beyond Mississippi.
In 1983, the Communist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America took advantage of a split electoral race to elect their candidate, radical lawyer and former Congressman, Harold Washington, as Mayor of Chicago.
Washington appointed hundreds of leftists to city positions and solidified a movement that went on to election two more allies: Carol Moseley Braun and then Barack Obama to the U.S. Senate from Illinois.
Last month, history repeated itself in one of the South’s largest Black majority towns. Activists in Jackson, Mississippi took another advantage of another split field to steer one of their leaders, Chokwe Lumumba, into the mayoralty.
While Harold Washington was aligned with the pro-Soviet left, Lumumba is even more extreme. He is a 40-year veteran of the Maoist/black nationalist current of the U.S. left, a stream renowned for its violence and militancy.
Marxists from all over the U.S. traveled to Jackson in the final weeks of the campaign to push Lumumba over the top.
Chandler is a veteran of Cesar Chavez‘s United Farm Workers, a Communist Party USA affiliate and was recently a member of the National Coordinating Committee of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a Communist Party splinter group.
It is because of Chandler and his radical allies in the state legislature that that Mississippi has been unable to pass legislation clamping down on illegal immigrants in the state.
Given his radical background, it’s not surprising that Lumumba was also backed by the ultra-radical African People’s Socialist Party, a Maoist group which dreams of black-led revolution in the most “oppressive” nation in the world, the United States of America.
From their UHURUNEWS.com website:
Chokwe Lumumba is running for mayor of Mississippi’s biggest city, Jackson.
The campaign is winning attention and support from Africans and other progressives from throughout the U.S.
It is just the latest and one of the most significant of recent electoral efforts by revolutionary activists to test the possibilities and limitations of bourgeois electoral politics to advance the interests of colonially oppressed Africans in the U.S.
Lumumba was a member of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa (RNA), a revolutionary pro-independence African liberation formation founded in 1968 at the height of the Black Revolution of the Sixties.
As a member of that organization and a genuine patriot of African liberation and self-determination, Lumumba risked his life and liberty on more than one occasion.
Lumumba’s reputation as a defender of African people’s rights, led the Black is Back Coalition for Peace, Social Justice and Reparations to endorse his candidacy at its national conference held in Newark, New Jersey in August 2012.
Subsequent to that endorsement the coalition also made a modest contribution from its modest treasury to Lumumba’s campaign.
Similarly, members of the African People’s Socialist Party joined with the growing ranks of Lumumba supporters and made a small financial contribution to his campaign.
We have known Lumumba from the inception of the Republic of New Afrika. We have done some work together over the years and we have also engaged in strenuous ideological struggles with Lumumba and the Republic of New Afrika. No doubt there will be others in the future.
Nevertheless, we support this campaign and this candidate because there has never been any doubt in our minds about the integrity and intent of Lumumba and his organization(s).
He and the Republic of New Afrika have always believed in self-determination for our people. They have always been able to demonstrate that belief at great risks to themselves and their families.
The African People’s Socialist Party has always held up as a strategic aim the need to win an understanding that the pro-independence sector of our movement represents the genuine aspirations of African people to be free and self-determining.
This is one thing that has made it easy for us to support Lumumba and most of his organizational efforts toward that end.
The socialists did acknowledge that Lumumba would have to moderate his image (if not his views) to get elected – just as Barack Obama did, but still supported him as a true revolutionary at heart.
Lumumba will have to win allies and support from sectors of the African national petty bourgeoisie in Jackson and other places in order to have maximum access to the African masses that do not have the advantage of independent political organization for the moment. That is to be expected…
Those of us who believe in the revolution and the struggle for African independence should maximize our support for Lumumba’s campaign.
Those of us who claim to be “progressives,” “leftists,” especially those who worked for and supported Barack Hussein Obama, must join in making this campaign a success in whatever ways we can.
There is no doubt that Lumumba deserves the African People’s Socialist Party’s confidence.
A Detroit native, Lumumba (originally Edwin Taliaferro) was educated at Western Michigan University and studied law at Wayne State University in Detroit.
As a young lawyer, he created the Malcolm X Center to educate and train young Black activists.
Also at this time, Lumumba became Vice-President of the Republic of New Afrika, a staunchly anti-capitalist group which sought reparations for slavery and aimed at creating a separate Black socialist state in the south.
In 1972, the Republic of New Afrika purchased land near Jackson, Mississippi as the geographic base for the movement. That was Lumumba’s first connection to the area.
In 1982, Chokwe Lumumba and the National Committee to Honor New Afrikan Freedom Fighters headlined a New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Day in Harlem.
Lumumba spoke alongside Imari Obadele, Republic of New Afrika; Ben Chavis, National Black Independent Political Party; Serge Mukendi, Congolese National Liberation Front; Jose Lopez, Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional; Zala Chandler, Coalition of Concerned Black Women and a speaker from the Soviet affiliated National Conference of Black Lawyers.
In the early 1980s, Lumumba was lead defense counsel in the “Brinks Case,” a major legal confrontation between the Justice Department and a group of armed revolutionaries from the Weather Underground spinoff, the May 19 Communist Organization and the Black Liberation Army.
These radicals carried out the October 1981 Brinks robbery of $1.6 million from an armored car and the killing of two police officers and a guard in Rockland County, New York.
On September 3, 1983, the Brinks Case ended (from the terrorists point of view) in a “stunning defeat” for the U.S. Government. Six of the eight defendants were acquitted of all major charges and no defendant was convicted in the actual robbery. As a result of his comments to the press, Lumumba was held in contempt by the District Judge.
Lumumba also defended cop killer Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army, who later escaped from prison and who hides out in Cuba under the name Assata Shakur.
Another Lumumba client was rapper Tupac Shakur, a former member of the Baltimore Young Communist League. In 1991, he represented activists in Los Angeles rioting after the videotaped police beating of Rodney King.
Lumumba also founded the New Afrikan People’s Organization, which in turn spawned the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which he has long led in the Jackson area.
The New Afrikan People’s Organization operated mostly from prisons and had affiliations with the Black Liberation Army, as well as other prison based extremist groups. According to the group’s “statement of principles”:
“NAPO is fully committed to the building of a sovereign socialist Black nation–the Republic of New Afrika . . . and seeks to free the land by any means necessary”
The group also reportedly provides paramilitary training to black youths.
Will Chokwe Lumumba use his position to promote a new revolutionary vision in the Deep South, just as Harold Washington did in Chicago?
Will the property taxes of Jackson, Mississippi be used to fund activists working to turn the city into the capital of a New Afrikan Republic?
Will Jackson, Mississippi become a Mecca for illegal immigrants, “crony capitalists” and radicals from all over the South?
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