Politics Blog

Chokwe Lumumba Talks about the 'Jackson-Kush' Plan on 'Solidarity' Site

Doing some research just now, I ran into this interview from last week with mayoral candidate Chokwe Lumumba that I think many of you will find interesting. In it, he discusses the "Jackson-Kush Plan" and where it fits into his organization's plan "for self-determination and economic democracy

From the plan:

“In order to create the democratic space desired, we aim to introduce several critical practices and tools into the governance process of the Jackson city government that will help foster and facilitate the growth of participatory democracy” [to include Participatory Budgeting, Gender-Sensitive Budgeting, Human Rights Education and Promotion for city employees, a Human Rights Charter, Expanding Public Transportation, Solar and Wind-Powered Generators, and a “South-South Trading Network and Free Trade Zone” to partner with the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) — ed.]

In the interview with Lumumba, he explains show his work in Jackson is part of a larger plan for the region:

CL: Our plan is essentially a self-determination tactic and strategy for African people in America, particularly and specifically in the areas which are affected by the plan. We call it the Jackson-Kush Plan, because Jackson is the city that we’re in and where we are running for mayor in May 2013, while the western part of Mississippi is the Kush District.

From Tunica, which is in the northwest part of Mississippi, all the way down to Wilkerson County in the southwest, are 18 contiguous counties. All are predominantly Black, with the exception of Warren County which is 47% Black.

We’re fighting for the self-determination of that region. This type of self-determination is strategically or tactically tied to enhancing other fights of self-determination in other areas of the South.

We’ve often heard of the Black Belt South [the historic term of reference to agricultural regions in the Deep South with majority Black population — ed.], but hopefully self-determination is not only in the South. It will inspire movements of self-determination intelligently laid in other parts of the country.

Lumumba told the interview why he ran for City Council in the first place:

Should we run? We didn’t want to give credence to an oppressive system… But we’re in a city that’s 85% Black, in a county that’s 70% Black, and in a region where 17 of the 18 counties are predominantly Black.

So we adjusted our strategy to account for the fact that people with whom we are organizing in good faith, to fight against the conditions that they are experiencing, should be entitled to put people in office and expect them to do what they wanted them to do.

We decided it was important that we run for seats, and pick those where there was a high probability we could win. So we ran for the City Council.

Lumumba says he hopes to establish an "alternative" form of governing:

ATC: Have you developed particular forms for expressing self-determination?

CL: We have created a People’s Assembly (PA) as part of our strategy in organizing our movement. The People’s Assembly is open to the people in the area. At first we held a PA in Ward 2 because I’m the Councilman of Ward 2. Now we’re expanding it to cover the whole city of Jackson.

People can voice their complaints but more importantly, try to take control over planning for city government. This can be a base for organizing. We want it to become an alternative source of governing. What we’re doing is building an infrastructure for a liberated people.

Here he addresses his campaign:

CL: The campaign depends upon the support of the people. But we’re not saying that in order to vote for Chokwe you have to believe in an independent party. Instead we say that in order to vote for Chokwe, you should believe that we’re moving toward a form of independence from the kind of oppressive things that we’ve had in the past; we’re moving toward a people’s form of government.

Of course we do have to confront this question of what’s going to be an independent political party. What do we want to do to rescue us from the parties that currently exist and the malfeasance which they have toward our people?

More about the "Kush District":

CL: This is probably less of a problem in the Jackson election, the mayor’s election, than it will be as we expand into other parts of the Kush District and other parts of the state. Generally speaking, in Jackson and in much of the Kush District it is difficult to really make much of a difference in local elections where 85% of the voters are Black. But our objectives are not limited to Jackson. Our objectives are not even limited to the Kush District.

Ultimately we’re talking about expanding self-determination, expanding human rights. We’re talking about expanding socially and economically just systems throughout the state. And when you talk that talk, then voter suppression becomes a very real response.

I suggest reading and sharing the entire interview before the May 7 primary.

Comments

donnaladd 1 year, 4 months ago

I assume this is the origination of the Kush part, but I'm not sure. Anyone who knows, feel free to chime in:

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Tom_Head 1 year, 4 months ago

I can understand why the terminology may be a little daunting, but the ideas aren't, at least as much as I understand them (and I think I understand them pretty well). Here's the gist of it:

In the Bible, Kush was one of the sons of Ham, the child of Noah associated with the North African cultures with which Israel associated (Ethiopia, primarily). In Exodus 10, Moses marries a Kushite woman, which scandalizes Aaron. So it's a pretty clear Hebrew Bible indicator for "black," by the standards of the region. The contemporary MXGM is using the word "Kush" to refer to the predominantly-black, predominantly-progressive area—centered in the Mississippi Delta—where it's focusing some of its efforts, identified in the interview as building people's assemblies (grassroots networks), drawing progressive candidates, and building progressive policies. Basically, it's a regional sanctuary-city approach that I think most of us would support, comparable to the political organizing that's going on in the "research triangle" in North Carolina. As you can see, it's mostly the same territory as U.S. House District 2.

What Kush is not is a proposed secession from the state. Chokwe did, I think, support secession at one point in the 1970s—which is understandable, frankly—but has now made it clear that by Kush he refers to the region itself, and not to a new proposed government.

These are radical ideas, but they're not secessionist or separatist ideas. You're right to investigate them, and I think it's incumbent on those of us who support his candidacy to explain ourselves when this kind of terminology comes up, but all this really represents is a regional organizing model based on majority demographics rather than state boundaries, which makes sense given the MXGM's low probability of success in organizing majority-white areas of the tri-state region.

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darryl 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey, maybe "kush" refers to the Hindu-Kush, the mountainous region of Afghanistan/Pakistan. Which, in Farsi, translates to "kills the Hindus" for its lethality on natives of the Indian subcontinent who attempt to traverse. Or maybe "kush" refers to the particularly potent brand of marijuana grown in the Hindu-Kush region. Not important, just a digression.

Having recently returned from a "self-determining" region, the Kurdish Regional Governorate (KRG) in northeastern Iraq, I can see where Mr. Lumumba is cautious in not openly espousing secession. The KRG has received stern rebuffs from the governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria for even contemplating separate-nation status.

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Tom_Head 1 year, 3 months ago

(The biblical antecedent is the correct one in this case, Darryl.)

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