Gathering To Mourn At City Hall - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Gathering To Mourn At City Hall

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Friends, family and supporters gathered at Jackson City Hall after hearing of the mayor's death.  City Council members were notified and called an emergency meeting to select an acting mayor, and to remember the legacy of Chokwe Lumumba.

"We ask that you pray for his children and his family, his friends, and for this great city of ours", Safiya Omari, Mayor Lumumba's Chief of Staff told those gathered at Jackson City Hall.

Friends, supporters, city and county leaders all gathered at Jackson City Hall. Some in tears, others trying to take in the shock of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's death.

City council members were called for an emergency meeting. After going into executive session, by unanimous vote, Council President Charles Tillman was named Acting Mayor.

"We gone do our best under these circumstances to run the city using the mayor's slogan. One city, one destiny, one aim," said Tillman.

"I do know that the mayor had chest pains this morning and after that I don't know what actually happened, but our city is deeply saddened and shocked by this," said Council Member Margaret Barrett-Simone.

"He was a great mayor because he was always open and transparent," added Council Member Melvin Priester, Jr.

"I'm shocked, I'm a little dismayed by this you know," said Bishop Ronnie Crudup. "I knew the mayor had been a little sick but I didn't think anything like this would happen."

Mayor Lumumba had talked about having cancer. Some said they had no idea of his illness, others told us it was a battle he always expected to win.

"He came out himself and said his cancer was under control and I think he was still going through treatments and you know the treatments probably had taken a toll on him," said Jackson Fire Chief Willie Owens.

"The first thing he'd tell me is Tommie I'm going to be alright," said Tommie Mabry of the City's Parks and Recreation Department. "I'm a warrior. And I just expected that's how it was going to be."

"He had courage, he was always well prepared and he never as the poem goes, lost his touch with the common person," said Jackson State University President Dr. Carolyn Myers.

"Tremendous loss," said Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray. "We've lost a friend and a brother today."

Many said the phones began to ring Tuesday evening with word of the mayor's death. The mayor leaves behind 3 children and city leaders say it is now time to support them.

"This is very, very shocking, very sad," said Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith.  He was a mentor, a friend, all the way back to Tougaloo College."

"All I can say is a giant walked among us and his name was Chokwe Lumumba," said Council member Tony Yarber.

Councilman Yarber, who served with Lumumba on the city council and  as mayor, says his death leaves a void, but the city can honor his memory by continuing his vision for growth and unity.

"Well the council has 30 days to set a special election. After that date is set, then there will be a 45 day period in which an election has to take place", Yarber explained.

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