Monday, June 26, 2017

Jackson, Miss. Mayor-elect Chokwe Lumumba: I Plan to Build the "Most Radical City on the Planet"

I just watched this episode from today's Democracy Now! and can see why one friend said that she'd listened to this show this morning and had fallen in love with Jackson Mississippi Mayor-elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba. So have I. I'm actually sitting her weeping because my heart is so touched. Especially watching the speech he gave in Chicago. I admit that I struggle with despair. I do. And things like this are the antidote, nourishing my hopefulness rather than my fear. I am profoundly grateful each and every time that I can share a bright light in the midst of so much darkness. We all need to remember that above the dark and stormy skies is the eternal light. And this light emanates from Mayor-elect Chokwe Lumumba. May he inspire us all. Another world is possible. - Molly

Excerpted from the transcript of today's Democracy Now! show featuring Mayor-elect Chokwe Lumumba:

MAYOR-ELECT CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA: I bring greetings from Jackson, Mississippi, where I have recently been named mayor-elect of Jackson, Mississippi. In this process, we defeated a field of 16 people. We were able to secure the general election with 94 percent of the vote. And more important than that, we did so on a people’s platform, on a people’s platform where, from the moment we announced, we did so saying that we were running on an agenda of social justice, of economic democracy and—and working with people, making certain that people had a voice. And that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

As we look at the condition of our country, as we consider the fact that we’re in Trump times, we have all kinds of questions of what that means. And when I’ve been confronted with the question of "How do you feel in Jackson, Mississippi, after the Trump election?" what I had to share with people is, after—the Wednesday after the election, I woke up in Jackson, Mississippi. And what that means is, no matter whether our country has experienced great booms or busts, in Mississippi we’ve always been at the bottom. And so what that means is that we have to decide that we are going to rescue ourselves, that in places like Jackson, Mississippi, we won’t allow it to become havens of oppression which endanger all of us.

So what happens in Jackson, Mississippi, impacts each and every one of us. And so we have to make the decision that we’re going to start controlling the way electoral politics proceeds. And so we’ve made the decision that we’re going to be the most radical city on the planet, that we’re going to make certain—that we’re going to make certain that we change the whole scope of electoral politics. No longer will we allow an individual to step before us and tell us all of the great things that they’re going to accomplish on our behalf, only to find that nothing in their past demonstrates a sincerity, a willingness or an ability to do so. What we must do—what we must do in Jackson, Mississippi, in D.C., in Maryland, in Gary, Indiana, in Chicago, Illinois, is we have to start drafting an agenda for ourselves, creating an agenda, creating what we want to see, and then we draft the leadership which represents our agenda.

And so, we’re excited about this energy which is surfacing, but it is time that we concretize it, that we take it from the mystical, from the mysterious, and put it into action and see what we can demonstrate when progressive people come together and have a plan and decide how we’re going to change the very scope of this world.

And so, we have to come to the same understanding that Martin Luther King came to in his last days. Martin had a conversation with Harry Belafonte not long before he died. And what Martin told Harry, he said, "Listen, Harry, we’re going to win this integration struggle. But I’m beginning to wonder. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re not integrating into a burning house." He said, "I see a system which is abusing labor and abusing working people." And he said, "I’m worried about integrating into a house that looks like that." He said, "If people can’t be fed, if people can’t take care of their families, then it is useless to walk Mississippi roads together."

And so, ultimately, it becomes greater than a question of color and more a question of ideas and what are the best ideas and what are the worst ideas. And what the worst ideas are, is that you can be oppressive to anyone. And so, we now demand—we now demand that our leadership looks at how we include the people’s voice in the process, and that we have a—we have two choices. We have a choice of economics by the people and for the people or economics by a few people for themselves. And so, we’re demanding, right now, right now, that we begin to rescue ourselves. Right now, as my comrade said, we have nothing to lose but our chains. Thank you so much.

To read the full transcript, or to watch the full program, please go here:

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