Lumumba: Regionalism of Another Kind | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Lumumba: Regionalism of Another Kind

Addressing the Mississippi Black Leadership Summit in Jackson Wednesday, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba dismissed the Hinds-Madison-Rankin model of regionalism.

Addressing the Mississippi Black Leadership Summit in Jackson Wednesday, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba dismissed the Hinds-Madison-Rankin model of regionalism. Photo by Trip Burns

During this spring and summer, when the Jackson mayoral campaign season hit its peak, a fierce debate took place about regionalism. Broadly, the thinking behind regionalism is that taking a regional, rather than a city-specific, approach to economic development would help all the cities and counties in the region flourish.

Then-candidate Chokwe Lumumba flatly rejected the mostly widely held view of regionalism, which involved grouping the city of Jackson and Hinds County with neighboring Madison and Rankin counties.

"When you have populations like ours, where the so-called minorities are in the majority, and people try to divest that population of the ability to make authoritative decisions, they do that in a number of ways. One is to disenfranchise the voters, and the other is to take all the issues that you really make decisions over, and transfer them to another regional form of government. That, I will not accept," Lumumba said at the time.

Lumumba, who went on to win election as Jackson's mayor, does have his own ideas about regionalism, however. Addressing the Mississippi Black Leadership Summit in Jackson Wednesday, Lumumba dismissed the Hinds-Madison-Rankin model.

"My concept of regionalism goes in the other direction. I would like to do some things in the western part of the state," Lumumba said.

Western Mississippi, as Lumumba explained, is home to 18 contiguous counties, including Hinds County, that span from Wilkinson County in the southwest corner of Mississippi northward to Tunica County and where African Americans make up the majority of the population. By contrast, blacks make up almost 20 percent of Rankin County and 39 percent of people in Madison County.

The leadership summit was not the first time Lumumba talked about teaming up with western Mississippi communities, which Lumumba called "the Kush District" in an April 2013 interview with Against the Current magazine. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which Lumumba founded, developed the Jackson-Kush Plan to promote self-determination, participatory democracy and economic justice.

"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," Lumumba said of west Mississippi in the ATC interview.

For Lumumba, the most crucial part of securing self-determination is making sure Jackson residents participate in the economy and share in the city's wealth.

Recently, Lumumba's administration has signaled a major shift away from the practice of outsourcing public-works projects. Instead, it is moving toward plans to grow the department to complete massive city construction projects—something that plays into Lumumba's philosophy that the city can play a direct role in injecting tax revenues into its own coffers through hiring.

Lumumba said building up city revenues to kickstart projects he promised to deliver during his campaign was a challenge, particularly in Jackson where many people live on fixed incomes. But, he added: "Perhaps the greatest challenge is to put your foot on the pedal and move forward."

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Comments

sarahmina 6 years, 8 months ago

Just an observation. If regionalism was so desirable and according to the article the generally accepted concept, why is it that Jackson has not been a beneficiary of the concept as Madison and Rankin counties have. By the way, I'm sure the mayor's door is open and welcoming to all Madison and Rankin county regionalist to walk right in with ideas of equitable partnerships with Jackson.

The kind of "regionalism" addressed here has historically been created when whites move out of a city/county that is largely minority, taking with them resources and access to resources (by historical design), leaving the inner city to struggle for survival. They, Madison and Rankin receive the favor of the state coffers and state response to "access", while inner city communities/counties die a slow death. The circumstances are created to fulfil the created self fulfilling prophecy - that African Americans can't "govern" themselves, infrastructure erodes, businesses continue to move out, schools don't educate and can't compete, housing is run down, crime increases and "whites" are needed to come back into the city and take back control. Take away the resources and access and you create the environment where the prophecy is realized.

Now you see all of the predominately white communities around Jackson begin to thrive economically, state monies for roads, educational systems flush with resoures built on increased property taxes, etc. It all "LOOKS" on the surface when compared to "Jackson" that exactly what the prophecy proclaims - African Americans cannot govern and Whites can.

Some of the issues in the inner city, though emanating from the historical system of inequality, must now be dealth with by those who live in the city, specially African Americans and those who may live outside of the city with a progressive leaning . A reteaching, if you will, of self determination, rediscovering communial PRIDE, and imparting historical TRUTHS to our youth so that they might know themselves. A deprogramming of self loathing to one of possiblities and love of self. Simply because the philosophy is one the mayor has had since the 1960's doesn't mean it is any less meaningful now than it was then. Unfortunately, many of the issues around power and control are still with us today. Sometimes the "old way" is still the "BEST" way..

When the mayor speaks of the challenge of putting your foot on the pedal and moving forward, he is NOT speaking of a minor event. The ground to cover is vast with multiple moving parts, each with it's own set of moving parts. I guess the old adage is still appropriate, "You have to start in order to finish".

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sarahmina 6 years, 8 months ago

It apears that my comment was edited, I assume because it was too long. Although a little disjointed, my major points were there. I would like to clairify what I meant by the "OLD WAYS". I was speaking of the philosophy Mayor Lumumba held 40 years ago which is still relevant today.

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js1976 6 years, 7 months ago

Concerns that he may lead the city based on his "Old Way" philosophy was the biggest hurdle he had to overcome. It is apparent that the fear will now become a reality and the mayor will lead as many of us expected him too.

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

That is just absolutely ridiculous. Can't you read & process with an open mind? His "PLAN" is to empower the people who live in the CITY! Why are white people SO afraid of that? Contrary to what you want to believe, it does NOT mean that African Americans want to treat you like whites treated them for the past 600 + years. We DON'T!! We DO, however want to create a city that for once benefits it's residents. If you are white and live in the city, you too will continue to benefit. The MAIN difference is that you won't be calling all of the shots and reaping all of the major benefits. Read your history and ours - you just might learn something that might help you deal with your "CONTROL" issues. One final suggestion. Instead of sitting back letting your fear drive you to paranoid, irrational conclusions, try getting involved with the new, progressive & INCLUSIVE Capitol City. You are welcome!

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

To the JFP, When writing an article like this you can Either fan the flames of irrational FEAR OR you can choose to help make the flame a flicker. Your discussion of the "KUSH" plan and the Mayors help in creating it 40 years ago, fans the flames. Since your paper has been described as "progressive", you might want to HELP southern whites understand why the plan was considered necessary 40 years ago and WHY the concept to self determination resonates with people of color today. I have absolutely NO doubt you KNOW the answers and maybe, just maybe, people who look like you might receive the TRUTHS OF HISTORY a little more palatable coming from YOU! They seem to totally dismiss the comments from people of color. I guess that's kinda the point, now isn't it.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Sarahmina, I rather doubt you'd like anything we reported about the mayor, from your history of commenting here, which is your choice. This is not the first story we've done about the "Kush" plan -- in fact, several links show up under the story above. And, for the record, the author of this story is African American.

We cannot under-report what Mr. Lumumba says and does because you believe it will scare white people. In fact, I'm rather surprised that you're concerned about that at all.

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

It is grossly unfair of you to suggest that my comments in "ANY WAY" state that you should NOT report what the mayor says, IT is the context in which you report it. I don't care if the writer is white, African American or blue, the point remains the same. Tell the story truthfully in a manner that "INFORMS" not "INCITES". Yes, I've responded to several articles for similar reasons. Because I disagree with you doesn't necessarily mean that I'm wrong and I'm well aware I have the right to a differing opinion. My point was that the KUSH plan, developed in a different period may need to be explained to southern whites in the context of that period. Is all of it relevant today? I don't think the Mayor would even say it is in it's entirety. However, it remains relevant in it's desire for self empowerment and self determination of a people who've never had it and are still laboring under the after effects of an evil & vile system. My point was that white readers who are paranoid about the Mayor might be more open to "YOUR" analysis if given in the context of the times in which it was created and why it might, in some part, be relevant today..

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Belvedere 6 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who thinks that Madison and Rankin Counties have the best interests of Jackson at heart is fooling themselves. Those counties phenomenal growth over the last 50 years has been driven by an unreasonable fear and loathing of Jackson. They have grown big and rich fueled by that fear and loathing. This is one of my problems with Vision 2022, that it takes a Madison/Rankin/Hinds County "metropolitan area" approach as a guiding star. That's like saying the foxes have a stake in the development of the chicken house. Under this "regionalist" 2022 plan, they do. Oh but they do. Why, even now, they're talking about building out into the swamp over by Pearl, toward Rankin County.

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js1976 6 years, 7 months ago

"Can't you read & process with an open mind?"

My reading comprehension isn't the problem here I can assure you.

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps your seeming unwillingness to TRY to understand might be a better description. YOUR FEAR IS I R R A T I O N A L and maybe stems from your lack of understanding/exposure. Again, you might want to "GET INVOLVED AND GET TO KNOW THIS MAYOR. It just might be that you "MIGHT LIKE HIM"!!!!

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Sarahmina, I know of no one at the JFP who either dislikes Mayor Lumumba or fears him. The fact that we actually report what he says indicates neither. It's our job.

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

Get a grip Ms. Ladd, The comment wasn't directed at JFP. It was in response to js1976. I don't think you "dislike or fear" the mayor. I just think your paper's comments are written in a way that fuel the fire instead of educating for a greater understanding.

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js1976 6 years, 7 months ago

"Perhaps your seeming unwillingness to TRY to understand might be a better description."

I have been TRYING to understand the new mayor, but when race begins to be a factor in how he chooses to lead I'M NOT GOING TO LIKE HIM!

One final suggestion, the continuous use of capitalized words make it very difficult to take any of your commentary seriously.

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sarahmina 6 years, 7 months ago

No problem. Whether I capitalized letters or NOT wouldn't make much of a difference. You seem to have made up your mind. African Americans did not make race a FACTOR, whites did. We are just trying to find a way to survive it. I think we've done an EXCELLENT job in trying to "INCLUDE" all people in the development of this city., You might want to read the history to see who has made "RACE" a "FACTOR" for the past 600 years. Wasn't US.

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js1976 6 years, 7 months ago

"You seem to have made up your mind."

Funny, I was thinking the same about you.

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justjess 6 years, 7 months ago

@Sarahmina "I think we've done an EXCELLENT job in trying to "INCLUDE all people in the development of this city.,.You might want to read the history to see who has made "RACE" a "FACTOR" for the past 600 years. Wasn't US."

What in the hell are you talking about. MS's slave history does not date back 600 years. I have tried very hard to ignore your commentary here because it is always laced with so much anger, hate, arrogance and what seems to be a misunderstanding of how one governs to encourage and promote a successful life for all citizens. It is my sincere hope that you are not on the payroll for the City of Jackson because you are sounding more and more like a train wreck just trying to find somewhere to flip off of the track.

You lost me in an earlier post where you said to the world that the reason that Harvey Johnson was accepted by whites was because he would not stand up. Your comment proved one thing: You did not and do not know Harvey Johnson, Jr. It is so painful to listen to a black female trash a black male who has all of the attribute and accolades of what the world considers successful, caring, family oriented, intelligent well educated and respected by others. If this is the black man that you trash - what are the character trait of one that you hold in esteem?

As I have said to you before, stop digging holes for others. Also, please know that all white people are not your enemy; All people in your race are not your friend.

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tsmith 6 years, 7 months ago

"Also, please know that all white people are not your enemy; All people in your race are not your friend"

Wisest words I've ever read here, bravo!

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