Wed, 5 March 2014
How and Why Did Chokwe Lumumba Die?
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“It is imperative that impartial science tell us the exact and incontestable cause of this man’s demise.”
When a Black radical dies in Mississippi, one should never accept at face value the state’s word on the cause of death. When that revolutionary Black man dies soon after becoming mayor of the state’s capital and largest city, history and reason compel us to put assassination first on our list of possibilities. And, if that Black man has brought with him to Jackson, Mississippi, a band of fellow revolutionaries from around the state and the nation, united under the banner of Malcolm X, for the purpose of totally upending the old order of race and class, not just in the Deep South, but across the planet, then it is imperative that impartial science tell us the exact and incontestable cause of this man’s demise.
Yet, the Mississippi state coroner has refused to perform an autopsy on the body of Chokwe Lumumba, who was elected by a landslide in June and died last Tuesday after checking into a hospital. The coroner says only that the mayor succumbed of “natural causes.” But, the state of Mississippi and its minions have zero credibility when it comes to Black life and death. Common sense tells us that the state is full of people who would love nothing better than to kill its most prominent radical, who was inviting other radicals of all races from around the country to a conference in May, to discuss the nuts and bolts of social transformation from the ground up. The “Jackson Rising” conference – which is still scheduled – is an invitation to a second Reconstruction through participatory democracy and new, cooperative economics. The event is meant to present a clear and present challenge to the rule of money and the hierarchy of race. Mississippi has murdered thousands of Black people for far less reason than that.
“The state of Mississippi and its minions have zero credibility when it comes to Black life and death.”
Mayor Lumumba’s family and close friends sought an independent autopsy, and the National Council of Black Lawyers, of which Mayor Lumumba had been a member since his days in law school, in Detroit, put out the call for funds. Akinyele Umoja, a close friend and longtime comrade in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which Lumumba helped found in 1993, and who is also chairman of African American Studies at Georgia State University, says that even if Mississippi agreed to do an autopsy, there’s no reason to believe their findings. “We don’t want to trust them to do it, anyway,” said Professor Umoja.
Kenny Stokes, a Black supervisor for the county surrounding Jackson, thinks the mayor was murdered, pure and simple. “I’m not going to sugar coat it,” said the elected official. “I believe that someone killed him…and a lot of other people feel he was killed.”
No matter what the independent autopsy concludes, Mississippi is guilty, has always been guilty, and will remain guilty, until it is transformed by the kind of people’s power that Chokwe Lumumba envisioned.
The mayor’s funeral is this Saturday. His 30 year-old son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, is likely to announce he’ll run to fill his father’s seat in a special election on April 8th, so that Jackson can keep on rising.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.