Chokwe Lumumba: A Civil Rights Attorney And The Former Mayor Of Jackson, Mississippi


Chokwe Lumumba was a civil rights lawyer who served as mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, from July 2013 until his death on February 24, 2014. Edwin Finley Taliaferro was born in Detroit, Michigan, the second of eight children to Lucien Taliaferro of Kansas and Priscilla of Alabama. After joining the Republic of New Afrika, a black nationalist organization, he changed his name in 1969.

Lumumba earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kalamazoo College in 1969. Three years later, he graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a law degree. He also helped establish the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

Lumumba established his own law firm in Detroit in 1978 and handled numerous civil rights cases. In 1981, he represented Cynthia Boston, also known as Fulani Sunni Ali, the Republic of New Africa’s Minister of Information, in the Brink’s robbery case. He also worked on the Geronimo Pratt murder case in 1985 and on the shooting of two off-duty Atlanta police officers in 1993 with the late rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur. He also assisted in the release of Gladys and Jamie Scott from a Mississippi prison in 2011 after they had served 16 years for an armed robbery they did not commit.

In 1971, Chokwe Lumumba relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, and assumed responsibility for confronting and negotiating with law enforcement agencies hostile to black radical groups. He rose through the ranks to become Vice President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa. In 1988, he relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, where he worked as a public defender under contract with the City of Jackson’s consortium to represent the municipality’s indigent citizens.

Lumumba was elected to the city council twenty-one years later, in 2009, and four years later he successfully ran for mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, defeating Harvey Johnson Jr. His primary concern was street and sewer repair. As a result, he enacted a 1% sales tax to fund the improvements.

Chokwe Lumumba, 66, died of heart failure on February 25, 2014. Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Lumumba’s son, is also an attorney and, after winning election in 2017, is the current mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.

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