Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba died unexpectedly Tuesday at age 66.
Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham confirmed the mayor’s death.
No cause of death has been released. However, in an Associated Press story, it was reported he joked about having had a cold on Monday.
Lumumba had been reported to have been suffering from an illness upon taking office and had been treated for cancer many years ago. However, Lumumba had stated many times he had made a full recovery from the cancer.
City Council president Charles Tillman has been sworn in as acting mayor.
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba took office on July 1, 2013, after beating incumbent Harvey Johnson in a runoff.
In 2009 Lumumba, a Detroit native and Jackson lawyer and civic activist, won election to Jackson’s Ward Two City Council seat.
Lumumba earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich. He later graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School.
Lumumba is the second Jackson mayor to die in office in recent years. Frank Melton died in May 2009, just two days after Johnson defeated his reelection bid.
Reacting to the Lumumba’s death, Gov. Phil Bryant said: “Deborah and I are shocked and saddened by the news of Mayor Lumumba’s passing and are praying for his loved ones. Just a short time ago, I had the opportunity to join the mayor in a church pew as we welcomed a new development to the city. His enthusiasm for Jackson will be deeply missed.”
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat, 2nd District, said:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. I have known Mayor Lumumba since 1974. One of the reasons I was so public about my support for the mayor, was that I believed once people got to know the real Chokwe Lumumba they would find him to be an extremely bright, caring and humble individual. His election as mayor and very short term in office demonstrated exactly that. This evening the city of Jackson truly suffered a great loss. I would like to extend my condolences to the Lumumba family and the city of Jackson.”
Lumumba was the father of three children, Kambon Mutope, Rukia Kai and Chokwe Antar, and he had one grandchild, Qadir Lumumba-Benjamin.
Jackson’s City Council now has 30 days to set an election date.
“They have to pick a date that is not less than 30 days or more than 45 days from the order,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said.
The election, run by the city, will be general and nonpartisan — no party registration.
“To win the election, someone has to get a majority of the votes cast to be elected,” Hosemann said. “If no one does, then the top two will be in a runoff in two weeks, a little different from statewide, which are three weeks later.”
As of now, there are no candidates who have come forward to potentially run for the office. However, it wouldn’t be far off base to believe Johnson could be approached to run as well as businessman Jonathan Lee, whom Lumumba defeated in the general election.