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Chokwe Lumumba: Remembering "America’s Most Revolutionary Mayor" | Democracy Now!
"AMY GOODMAN: That was Jamie Scott and, before that, Gladys Scott, released from jail after 16 years in prison for an $11 robbery. Standing next to them was Chokwe Lumumba, their attorney at the time, now mayor—well, until yesterday. His sudden death is why we’re talking about him today, though we interviewed him the day after he was elected. Also standing there was Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, who recently wrote a piece for The Huffington Post called "Remembering Chokwe Lumumba." Remember him for us, Ben.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Sure. Well, you know, that was the fourth or fifth time we had stood next to people that we had worked together to free from prison over the last 20 years. And that was what was so remarkable about Chokwe. I mean, he was a man who was, you know, a true man, if you will. He was active in his church. He had a great marriage to his wife. He had two wonderful kids that he poured all of his love into. He was a well-respected coach. He was an incredible lawyer.

And he chose his—and he also was, you know, somebody with very strong ideals. And he chose to live and practice those ideals on the ground in one of the poorest places in our country. And he brought all of those things with him into the courtroom—all the compassion, all the insight, all his skill as a lawyer—on behalf of the poorest people in the state. And that’s ultimately why Bill and Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP in Mississippi, and so many others, they say he was drafted to run for mayor, because everybody had basically fallen in love—let me put it this way: An overwhelming majority of Jackson—I won’t say everybody, because there were definitely some people who were on the other side—but an overwhelming majority of Jackson, black and white, had fallen in love with Chokwe over the years that he had lived in town, because he was just such a good person. And you knew in your heart, when you live in Jackson, that the toughest thing in Mississippi to be is to be poor and black and in court without good counsel. And he would, at oftentimes risk to his own financial stability, defend anyone who he thought he could help, who he thought needed help, and, most importantly, who he was convinced that nobody else would help.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to our interview with Chokwe Lumumba on Democracy Now! the day after he was elected. We talked to him June 6th. I asked him about the FBI’s decision last year to place his former client, Assata Shakur, on the Most Wanted Terrorists list. But before we play that clip, I wanted to ask you, Ben, about the media coverage, both of Chokwe Lumumba, his election, and the significance of the man who some who called the most revolutionary mayor in America—the lack of the coverage. Last night, I was watching the networks, and I opened The New York Times today, the actual paper edition, and I didn’t see a reference. Last night watching MSNBC for hours, now, I didn’t watch every single second, so I might have missed something, but I did not see a reference. As Bill Chandler said, he died late yesterday afternoon.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah. So, you know, I know that I saw something in the Times this morning online.

AMY GOODMAN: Online, yes.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, I mean, Chokwe—I mean, look, Chokwe is somebody who you have to give this much time to really talk about. This is a man who lived, if you will, sort of multiple journeys in his life and who was quixotic to people because, on the one hand, you could easily stereotype him as being some sort of radical—he would say he was a radical, because he didn’t see that as being a bad thing. You know, he was somebody who thought that, frankly, having ideals and practicing them in this country full of so much hypocrisy was a radical thing. But he was also somebody who was an extremely committed mayor, very good at working across the aisle, even in his short tenure, with people in the business community, in the most conservative corners of the city, if you will. And he was somebody who at the end of the day, yes, stood up for black people, but was ultimately committed to fairness for everyone in our country.

And so, you know, for, I think, many in the media who sort of deal in sound bites, there’s just too much there to quickly understand in 30 seconds, and so they move on. But he’s ultimately the type of person that we need to understand better in our country, because our country ultimate is greatest, if you will, because of the contributions of idealists over the years who, yes, may have staked a far-out position at times in their lives, but ultimately served to pull our country closer to its own closely held ideals of fairness and equality and justice and the universal dignity of all humanity."
chokwelumumba  socialjustice  leadership  2014  obituaries  ideals  idealism  praxis  government  policy  politics  law  jackson  alabama  benjaminjealous  amygoodman  akinyeleumoja  kwamekenyatta  fairness  equality  civilrights  justice  us  chokweantarlumumba 
february 2014 by robertogreco

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