The campaign to elect City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba as mayor announced several endorsements from key city leaders Friday morning in front of City Hall.
Among the endorsements Lumumba received were State Representatives Earl Banks and Jim Evans and District 5 Hinds County Supervisor Kenneth Stokes and his wife, Ward 3 City Councilwoman LaRita Cooper Stokes. Former mayoral candidate Regina Quinn, who endorsed Lumumba through a press release earlier this week, was there to back up her reasons for endorsing the one-term Ward 2 Councilman for mayor.
"I'm here to strongly endorse Chokwe Lumumba to be our next mayor," Quinn said, adding that she came to her decision after "serious thought." Quinn cited a past Clarion-Ledger story that revealed that women in Jackson were being paid, on average, 73 percent of their male counterparts were for the same job.
As she said in her press release, Quinn stated she thinks Lumumba is the only candidate who will take swift action to correct what she called a "sad situation" in terms of women's pay.
After Banks and Evans pledged their support for Lumumba, Kenneth Stokes, speaking on his behalf and for his wife, who was in Chicago on Friday, took an opportunity to defend his candidate against some of the attack ads launched by his opponent in the May 21 runoff, Jonathan Lee.
The ad shows Chokwe Lumumba making a speech on Feb. 13, 2009, at what looks like a book store, where the candidate talked openly about the police, religion and the Democratic Party. The ad uses Lumumba's own words to lead viewers to believe that Lumumba doesn't like police, isn't a "Barack Obama Democrat" and doesn't believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"(The accusations against Lumumba are) just nonsense coming out of evil people's mouths," Stokes said. "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."
Lumumba has already said publicly that the clips from the video featured in the ad were taken out of context, that he has always supported the Jackson Police Department and that if voters watched the full video, they would see he wasn't implying what the ad infers.
Stokes finished his statement by saying he didn't intend to cuss, but that the Jackson Free Press "can kiss my ass!" He made this point with emphasis to a round of laughter from the assembled city leaders behind him. When asked after the press conference why he made the statement, Stokes said he said it because the JFP should have endorsed Lumumba, but did not elaborate more on the record. The Jackson Free Press has not endorsed a mayoral candidate for the runoff.
Lumumba concluded the press conference by thanking U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who has launched his own radio ad endorsing Lumumba for mayor and criticizing Lee's Republican support. Lumumba did not open the floor for questions.