Chokwe Lumumba, fiery civil rights leader, lawyer and mayor of Jackson, Miss., died Tuesday afternoon after experiencing chest pains.
“It is with heavy heart that we inform you that our beloved brother, human rights activist and mayor of the great city passed away this afternoon. We ask that you pray for his children and family, his friends and for this great city of ours,” said his emotional chief of staff, Safiya Omari as she made the announcement during a press conference.
Mayor Lumumba, born Edwin Taliaferro, was raised in Detroit. He changed his name to Chokwe Lumumba to honor the Chokwe tribe and the great African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.
Lumumba’s first turn at political activism was the day Martin L. King Jr. died. He and other students took over a campus building and demanded more black professors, courses and scholarships for black students. His years of activism included working with civil rights legends Dick Gregory and Julian Bond and forming a Black Nationalist movement called the Republic of New Afrika.
As a lawyer Lumumba worked to free Black Panther Geronimo Pratt, Assata Shakur and Tupac Shakur. He was also instrumental in freeing the Scott sisters, who were serving a 16-year prison sentence for a crime they did not commit. He was elected mayor of Jackson on June 4, 2013.