Jackson, Miss., mayor to speak at SIU on Tuesday
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Chokwe Antar Lumumba, an attorney and the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, will discuss his plans to revitalize that city based on a concept of “dignity economy” during a lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Lumumba’s presentation, “From Exploitation to Empowerment: Lessons from Jackson, Mississippi, and the way forward,” is from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. Lumumba will also meet with students during the day. Presented by the University Honors Program, the Michael and Nancy Glassman Distinguished Lecture was initially set for Feb. 24 but postponed due to a winter storm.
Jyotsna Kapur, honors program director, noted that Lumumba’s visit is especially significant because he comes to SIU from dealing with the most recent water crisis in Jackson. Following heavy rains, the 150,000, predominantly Black residents of the city found themselves without drinking water and sewage on the streets. Water has now been restored to the city, but the emergency goes on because the city suffers from years of lack of support to address its deteriorating infrastructure.
Believes in the city’s residents
Since winning his first mayoral election in 2017, followed by re-election in 2021, Lumumba has worked on strengthening “a sense of security in community, ownership over work and wealth through cooperatives, hope in the future through building a zero-waste city and self-realization through access to education,” Kapur said.
Lumumba’s initiatives include re-energizing the city’s public school system, bringing 3D manufacturing to the city, collaborating with higher education institutions to develop a plan from prenatal care all the way to graduate school for children born in Jackson, multiyear budgets to meet the crisis created by 30 years of flash floods and COVID-19, and signing on to a carbon tax to address the climate crisis.
In fall 2020, Lumumba spoke to Kapur’s honors seminar. “He inspired us to change the world from where we stand and is a shining example of how to do it democratically and with love for your community,” Kapur said.
Youngest mayor in city history
Lumumba was 34 years old when he became the city’s 53rd mayor – the youngest in city history. He received a bachelor's degree from Tuskegee University and earned a law degree and certificate in sports and entertainment law from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University in Houston.
Lumumba has received several awards, including the National Black Caucus of State Legislators 2017 Nation Builder Award and the Frederick Douglass 200 Award in the area of politics.
Editor’s note: Chokwe Antar Lumumba is pronounced Show-quay Ann-tar La-moom-ba.