#JxnRising: Chokwe A. Lumumba Wins Jackson Mayoral Primary, Ready to Bring Fresh Energy to Role

Lawyer Chokwe Antar Lumumba defeated incumbent Mayor Tony Yarber in the Democratic primary race. (Photo by Trip Burns)

Jackson, Miss., will soon have a new mayor.

After winning more than 55 percent of the vote against eight other candidates, attorney and community activist Chokwe Antar Lumumba sailed to victory in the Jackson mayoral primary race Tuesday, May 2.

Lumumba, son of late Jackson mayor Chokwe Lumumba, defeated incumbent Tony Yarber, who ultimately conceded to the 34-year-old after losing the Democratic primary. Despite his loss, Yarber threw his full support behind Lumumba.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our city move forward,” the one-term mayor said. “We’re excited to be able to congratulate [Chokwe Antar] Lumumba, a very good friend of ours.”

Lumumba and his supporters celebrated well into the night after his win was announced, spiritedly chanting, “Victory, today, is mine,” the Clarion-Ledger reported. On the phone, Lumumba told the paper how excited he was about the cross-section of support he had received despite opposition from Republican, independent and third-party candidates.

The local lawyer also beat out Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham, who won 15 percent of the vote, and five-time state Sen. John Horhn, who won 21 percent. Horhn later conceded to Lumumba and expressed concern that the mayoral candidate might be “in over his head” with the position he’s running for.

“In Jackson, voters continue to be fickle and undereducated about how this process works,” the senator said. “They’re very much into who’s the most popular person and who sounds the best and who brings a certain flair to politics. That doesn’t always translate to getting results but it’s what they like.”

The road to victory hasn’t been a smooth one for Lumumba, however. Three years prior, the local activist fell to then-councilman Yarber in the 2014 mayoral election. He announced his candidacy shortly after his father, Chokwe Lumumba, died unexpectedly after serving less than eight months in office. Yarber completed the rest of the elder Lumumba’s term.

“Daddy Lumumba would be proud tonight,” said Aaron Banks, a candidate for Ward 6 City Council, who attended Yarber’s watch party the night of the election.

While he plans to continue building on the legacy of his father, the younger Lumumba is focused on developing his own message and unique voice. The 34-year-old has never held political office but had a hand in crafting a few of his father’s policies. Some of his goals include creating an “incubator fund” to help grow cooperative and member-owned business, as well as initiating a financing mechanism to help turn the city’s one-cent sales tax program into $500 million of usable funds, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Tweets of congratulation and support poured in Tuesday night as supporters took to social media to laud Lumumba’s victory.

Lumumba will face a new wave of candidates in the general election come June 6, but Jackson residents are hopeful he’ll emerge as the city’s next mayor.

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