After the death of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Judge Melvin Priester Sr. (left) swore in Council President Charles Tillman as acting mayor of Jackson. Melvin Priester Jr. (center) became council president, and Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon (far right) looks on.
Photo by Trip Burns.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, 66, died today at St. Dominic's Hospital of heart failure.
The Jackson City Council just came out of executive session at City Hall at 6:43 p.m. today and announced that they have selected Council President Charles Tillman as acting mayor, Melvin Priester Jr. as council president and De'Keither Stamps as council vice president—immediately swearing them in.
Tillman said that, within the next 30 days, the council is going to set a date for a special election. When asked if he knew the mayor was sick, Tillman said he noticed yesterday that Lumumba had a cold, but he didn't think anything of it.
Administration Chief of Staff Safiya Omari made a brief statement at 6, saying that this afternoon, "our brother Chokwe Lumumba" passed away at St. Dominic's hospital. She not provide any information about the cause or time of death. It has been long rumored that Lumumba was very ill, perhaps from cancer, but he had denied the rumors to the Jackson Free Press.
Bishop Ronnie Crudup led a prayer at City Hall, as emergency vehicles gathered with lights flashing outside. "We're shocked at the death of our mayor," he said. He wants us to pray for Lumumba's family and our city. "He was a good man, a man of wisdom."
Jackson City Council President Charles Tillman said that, under the Lumumba administration, Jackson was moving forward as a city in transparent ways. He said city residents were excited about what he was doing.
The regular city council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. today was adjourned until 9 a.m. Thursday.