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Civil Rights Activist Chokwe Lumumba elected mayor of Jackson, Miss.

6/20/2013, 12:48 p.m.
Chokwe Lumumba

Civil rights activist and attorney Chockwe Lumumba is the new mayor of Jackson, Miss. The famed attorney took 87 percent of the vote in the election in a city closely associated with the racial struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.

After being elected to Jackson's City Council in 2009, Lumumba served as chairman of the New African People's Movement. During his time on the City Council, he helped with ongoing efforts in rebuilding Jackson after Hurricane Katrina and helped free the Scott sisters.

"I'm just delighted," Lumumba said about his win. "I feel wonderfully well about the people and their vote. Our slogan has been the people must decide, and the people gave us an outstanding mandate today for positive change in the city of Jackson."

His opponents during the primary included Francis Smith, Cornelius Griggs and Chip Williams, who, combined, received 13 percent of the vote. Reports indicate that low voter turnout played a factor in Lumumba's win.

At his victory party, African drummers played outside of the hotel where Lumumba and his campaign team celebrated. A New Orleans-style brass band was also at the festivities. People at the party chanted, "The people divided will never be defeated."

"I want to thank all the voters who came out to give us this mandate," Lumumba said to the crowd. "That's a mandate for change--a mandate for positive change. It's not a mandate for craziness or a mandate for being mad at someone. It's not a mandate to take vengeance against someone. What it is, is a mandate to build Jackson to a positive level of change. It's a God-given mandate."

Issues of concern for Lumumba include cutting down crime, improving education, strengthening economic development and better health for Jacksonions. He wants fair policing and to develop community police patrols.

Originally from Detroit, Lumumba earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich. Lumumba later finished first in his law school freshman class before graduating cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. He is licensed in both Mississippi and Michigan.

Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and Lumumba is its second Black mayor. The first was incumbent Harvey Johnson Jr., who served three terms. The city has a population of 173,500, with Blacks making up nearly 80 percent.