Lee Attempts to Paint Lumumba as 'Other' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Lee Attempts to Paint Lumumba as 'Other'

With just two days remaining before Jackson voters return to the polls to pick the city's next mayor, businessman Jonathan Lee's campaign is attempting to define rival Councilman Chokwe Lumumba (right) as a non-Christian, anti-American police-hater. Former mayoral candidate Regina Quinn (left) endorsed Lumumba.

With just two days remaining before Jackson voters return to the polls to pick the city's next mayor, businessman Jonathan Lee's campaign is attempting to define rival Councilman Chokwe Lumumba (right) as a non-Christian, anti-American police-hater. Former mayoral candidate Regina Quinn (left) endorsed Lumumba. Photo by Trip Burns

With just two days remaining before Jackson voters return to the polls to pick the city's next mayor, businessman Jonathan Lee's campaign is attempting to define rival Councilman Chokwe Lumumba as a non-Christian, anti-American police-hater.

In recent days, Lee supporters have circulated material raising questions about Lumumba's Christianity as well as his attitudes toward police and the Democratic Party. Lee's own Democratic cred has been questioned throughout his campaign because of the strength of his support in Republican corners of the capital city and his time spent living in Rankin County.

A new ad from the Lee campaign featured in a WJTV news story contains a seconds-long snippet from a February 2009 event in which Lumumba states: "There's no question that we're not a Democrat like Barack Obama."

Lumumba's lack of affection for the Democratic Party does seem clear when the clip is watched in its entirety. In response to questions from a female audience member about whether he would run as an Independent or a Democrat, Lumumba offered:

"We said if listing on the Democratic Party ticket required us to sign anything, to sign an oath or say anything that we were going to do anything, hold these principles, we weren't going to do it.

"But if it just required us to go in there to go in there and to say we want to be listed on the Democratic ticket, then we were going to do it. And we're doing it for two reasons: One, it is an election that we intend to win. There's no question that we're not a Democrat like Barack Obama. We're not a Democrat, period, and I made that statement clear.

"But there are two things: you can't win the election in Jackson, Mississippi, if you're running as an Independent. That is not going to happen. We've gotten too many test cases to see that that's the case. Second, once we win the seat, then we'll be in a position to do what we want to do—and will do what we want to do—which means what you'll be looking for is the creation of a new party in Mississippi, which will be called for by us."

Lumumba said the new party would be either the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party or the Reconstruction Party.

Also, Lumumba explains in another video he doesn't like police because police officers in his hometown of Detroit routinely beat people within inches of their lives.

But the charge that is getting the most buzz is the challenge to whether Lumumba is a Christian. The Lee ad shows a three-second portion of the same Lumumba speech in which he states: "I don't know if Christ died and rose again. That's not my thing."

Again, considered in context, Lumumba's statements—which if true would suggest that Lumumba does not share the same beliefs as the Bible-believing Christians who make up the majority of the city's electorate—are much more complex that the brief bit that appears in Lee's ad.

Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen, a Republican Lee supporter, sent the full video to the JFP last Tuesday, demanding that we "POST IT."

In the clip Allen sent, Lumumba states that he does not know if he believes Christ rose from the dead. The following day, May 15, Lee held a press conference to announce several new endorsements from faith leaders. New Jerusalem Church Pastor Duane Pickett said it was important to him that Lee believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ because "Jackson needs a resurrection." Subsequently, the Lee camp started airing the ad of Lumumba speaking about Christianity and making other controversial statements.

"All we did was to run with what he said," Lee told JTV.

Here is the full text of the video: "I've been baptized four different times, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I've been baptized as a Catholic when I was in Detroit when I had no control of it," Lumumba said of his childhood growing up in Michigan.

"I was baptized in Mississippi. When they started shooting at us, I went and got baptized. I went and joined the greater Clark Street Baptist Church. You know how the Baptists (do). They drop you in the water, and sometimes they let you go. Then I came back, and I've been in the United Methodist church. Now I'm in another church called Word and Worship, and I'm in another church called Solid Rock International Ministries.

"But look, don't come down to Mississippi talking about organizing if you're not going to be able to work with church people because if you can't organize church people, then you're not going to organize Mississippi. Now I have enough sense to know what churches to go into. I had a discussion with my minister, and I said, 'I don't know if Christ died and rose again. That's not my thing. I'm not into that.' But what I am into is community. I do believe that there is a God power, which I think comes from all of us, but that's just my view. And I do see the movement of people when they have—they can call it prayer, they can call it some kind of spiritual coming together, some kind of emotional coming together.

"But, see, I coach basketball and don't tell me you can't move people with intangibles because I've seen it happen. I know it happens, and so especially when you're getting shot at, you get religious real, real quick. So the point to make is this: We have to understand the culture of people. We can't be disdainful of the culture of people. Now that doesn't mean that you can't be an agnostic or an atheist if that's what you want to be, but at least respect the culture of the people and move accordingly."

Lumumba's supporters, such as District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes, called the suggestion that Lumumba is out of touch with the values of Jacksonians preposterous:

"It's just nonsense coming out of evil people's mouths. Chokwe has done more work with young people in this community, coaching basketball and mentoring them, showing them there's a better way to live. As Charles Tisdale would have said, Chokwe is a man among men. He's the type of leader who won't back down. This is Jack-town, and we need a man. I'll repeat it in case somebody didn't hear me. We need a man."

Watch more of Lumumba on Christianity here.


sarahmina 5 years, 5 months ago

What is so disheartening to me is that Mr. Lee, regardless of whether he agrees or disagrees with Mr. Lumumba, would try to discredit a man who helped to make it possible for Lee's daddy to even own a business Or for Mr Lee's children to attend public OR private schools OR for Mr. Lee to go into a bank and sit in front at the bankers desk, ride any bus and sit where he choses, eat out for lunch and dinner, talk to a white woman, buy a house, ON and ON and ON. I know why his white Republican supporters would want to demonize Mr. Lumumba, but it takes a Hankerchief head Negro boy to join in. ANY Black supporter of Mr. Lee's who does not speak out AGAINST this, should send for his Hanki too and use it to scratch his/.head. You are less than the lowest to try to use the very militancy that helped you to survive against the man who fought so hard, ALL OF HIS LIFE, for you. SHAMEFUL


SAVANTE_STRING 5 years, 5 months ago

But will that make him a good Mayor?


donnaladd 5 years, 5 months ago

Which, Savante. You're drowning in pronouns.


LoverGirl 5 years, 5 months ago

It's sad that "non-christian" is being used to show that someone is unfit to run for office. It sounds like Lee is running his campaign on bigotry. smh. does he not realize that he is potentially alienating a portion of Jackson that is not Christian or is he just out to win an election? Sucks that politicians feel the need to play politics over serving the greater good of society.


theforeverwalker 5 years, 5 months ago

oooooooookay. "militancy" aside, i look at capacity, 'tis the better equalizer. who has more potent capacity to run the local executive branch? someone who's been in the local legislative branch has a leg up IMO, so chokwe's the better choice. the executive decisions lee has executed are executing him. if the candidate's backgrounds were reversed, i'd say the same thing supporting lee. the electric pink elephant in voters' minds is "which of the candidates' capacity do i believe in more?"


833maple 5 years, 5 months ago

Ok Savante! But now what's in Lee's toolbox when it comes to leadership for the capital city? And don't say he's a business owner because we've been down that road and it's a dead end.


Knowledge06 5 years, 5 months ago

The Lee campaign cannot talk about their IDEAS. Instead they use the failed approach the got Mitt Romney defeated in the Presidential campaign. If Lee's IDEAS were so great, he wouldn't stoop to what he's doing. He's looking desperate and immature. We've been down that road in Jackson. We certainly don't won't to go there again.


sabiriusin601 5 years, 5 months ago

oooooooooooookay. "militancy" aside, i look at capacity, 'tis a stronger litmus test for leadership and IMO, who better to step into the local executive branch than someone who is currently in the local legislative branch? in terms of leadership CAPACITY i'd say the same thing if lee/lumumba were switched...chokwe's been a straightforward, respected, comprehensive leader meanwhile the executive decisions jonathan's executed are executing him.

the pink elephant in jackson voters' minds is "which candidate do i believe will lead to a better capital city that represents ME". i do wish chokwe had more young folks in his ad though. looking forward to the debate tonight does cabbage patch in my seat


donnaladd 5 years, 5 months ago

My take is that the white-people wig-out is exactly Chokwe wants. And I'm astounded that Lee let this ad out of the gate, especially the religion part, which is despicable. The other parts I see as fair game considering that Lee has his own political-party problem. It'll be interesting to see if this one backfires.

SMH. What a mess.


donnaladd 5 years, 5 months ago

Case in point: We got this on Tuesday before this new ad hit the airwaves:

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Ben Allen" ballen@downtown-jackson.com Date: May 14, 2013 5:50:04 PM CDT To: donna@jacksonfreepress.com, todd@jacksonfreepress.com Subject: Then have the courage to post this....

This is why , n/m.......POST THIS and let your "readers" decide for themselves....He is a Christian?

Read Exodus 20:7

Post this video, if you have any intellectual honesty....let your reader's decide

Post it.


justjess 5 years, 5 months ago

I just finished watching the Lee - Lumumba Debate on WAPT. Lumumba ate Jonathan's lunch! Lee became frustruated, anxious and tried to use interruptions to silence Lumumba. It didn't work. Experience, a broad knowledge of how goverment works and the duties, responsibilities and limitations of the Council were Lumumba's strong points.

It will be interesting to see if this debate and the next three days of heavy campaigning will have an appreciable impact on the election. According to several polls, the undecided number is around 16%.

Don't forget to VOTE: If your candidate didn't win or didn't get enough votes to make the run-off, make a decision based on facts - not fiction about the candidates who will be on the ballot.


js1976 5 years, 4 months ago

sarahmina, it's a political campaign! Attempts to discredit your opponent are common practice. Unless Lee slanders Lumumba, then he has nothing to be ashamed of. What would you suggest he do, concede because of Lumumba's history of activism?

What's shameful is your attempt to label Lee black supporters of Lee as a bunch of "Uncle Toms"!

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