A graduate of the historically black Tuskegee University in Alabama and Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Chokwe Antar (right) would likely have his father's grassroots political machine behind him, not to mention his name.
Photo by Trip Burns.
As Jackson ponders the question of who will step into the mayor's seat after the sudden death of Chokwe Lumumba last week, some are looking at Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar, as a viable option.
The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, in its weekly newsletter on Friday, Feb. 28, announced: "Chokwe Anton (sic) has agreed to run to keep his father's vision alive," referring to 30-year-old Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
MIRA's newsletter states "an upsurge of support for the idea" of the junior Lumumba taking over for his late father has swelled. Over the weekend, Hinds County District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes also expressed his support for a possible Chokwe Antar candidacy.
Reached by phone Friday, Chokwe Antar said that he had not spoken with representatives of MIRA, but that he is focusing on his father's memorial services. A wake is scheduled for Friday, and the funeral will take place Saturday at the Jackson Convention Complex. Chokwe Antar promised that his father's home-going would be a celebration, featuring music, dancers and surprises he declined to reveal.
If Chokwe Antar were to enter what is expected to be a crowded field of hopefuls in the yet-to-be announced special election for mayor, he could be formidable.
A graduate of the historically black Tuskegee University in Alabama and Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Chokwe Antar would likely have his father's grassroots political machine behind him, not to mention his name.
However, aside from working on his father's campaigns for Jackson City Council in 2009 and mayor last year, Chokwe Antar lacks the extensive political or campaign experience of some other candidates who might be interested in throwing their hats into the ring.
Other possible candidates include Jackson businessman Jonathan Lee, who finished in first place ahead of Lumumba in last year's Democratic primary, but lost in the runoff election. After leading a moment of silence for Lumumba at the conclusion of Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum Feb. 28, Lee told the Jackson Free Press he is not discussing his future plans out of respect for the late mayor.
Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., who finished in third place behind Lee and Lumumba, might eye a fourth term in his old seat and could raise money quickly.
Regina Quinn, the only woman who ran for mayor last year and finished in a respectable fourth place, is another possibility. Quinn, the former general counsel for Jackson State University, is widely respected and threw her support to Lumumba after the Democratic primary. Several members of Quinn's campaign staff currently hold positions in Lumumba's administration or elsewhere in city government.
Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber has long been regarded as a possible mayoral contender. Yarber declined to run in 2013, but as a smart, young, charismatic pastor and former educator from south Jackson, he could quickly assemble a turnout organization.
Two other young councilmen, Ward 2's Melvin Priester Jr. and Ward 4's De'Keither Stamps, are also interesting possibilities. Priester's father, Melvin Priester Sr., is a prominent Hinds County judge; Stamps has a military background and is known as a dynamic public speaker.
Finally, Stokes could be positioning himself to seek the seat. A former member of the Jackson City Council—his wife now holds that chair, but has announced a run for a county judge's seat—Stokes' power on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors greatly diminished thanks to the additions of Darrel McQuirter and Tony Greer last fall. A crowded field of mayoral candidates combined with a mighty Ward 3 political machine could make the special election Stokes' to lose.
A previous version of this story misstated the ward Jackson Councilman Tony Yarber represents. Yarber is councilman of Ward 6 not Ward 5. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.