Bruce Dixon and Dr. Akinyele Umoja
On December 1, our comrade and friend Akinyele Umoja published a piece titled “’Tell No Lines, Claim No Easy Victories:’ A Response to Ultra-Left Attacks on the Lumumba Administration in Jackson Mississippi.” You can find it reprinted in full at the end of this response. I am named as one of the ultra-leftists, along with Black Agenda Report, the publication I co-founded with Glen Ford and Margaret Kimberley in 2006. Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno is similarly named. Though I certainly don’t speak for Kali, since Black Agenda Report published his articles and has run multiple audio and video pieces of his analyses of the situation in Jackson over the last couple months, I may cite Akuno in answer to some of the Akinyele’s critique.
Dr. Akinyele Umoja is chair of Georgia State University’s Department of African Studies and the author We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement.
On behalf of the New Afrikan Peoples Organization, the mother of the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization, Akinyele charges me, this publication, and Kali Akuno of “ultra-leftisim,” making “undermining attacks,” political one-upmanship,” and sectarianism. He correctly affirms that we have the right and duty to disagree with and engage in principled ideological struggle with one another. But inexplicably he says we haven’t done that. Our criticisms he says, are no more than antagonistic unprincipled shade throwing, and that our critique should be presented in some public forum.
But if Black Agenda Report isn’t a public forum, what the hell is? We welcome this and future opportunities to present his and our own analyses side by side in what we think is a respectful and comradely way. That really sounds, to steal Kali Akuno’s phrase, more like ‘casting light” than throwing shade. It’s what we’ve always understood as ideological struggle over the correct course to pursue in the struggle to transform this society and this planet.
In his essay, Akinyele calls us ultra leftists, which he defines as “...an orientation that overestimates the level of consciousness and organization of the people and capacity of the revolutionary movement while often engaging in sectarian politics divorced from the peoples struggle...” promising to examine this tendency “...and how it applies to the critics of the electoral victory in Jackson and the administration of Chokwe Antar Lumumba...”
It’s a promise he doesn’t keep. The closest Akinyele gets to explaining what makes me, Black Agenda Report and Kali Akuno ultra-leftists is when he offers his own explanation of why NAPO/MXGM decided they could somehow advance a revolutionary nationalist agenda by campaigning for office as Democrats. Akinyele calls it a “...tactical decision… based on the reality that the overwhelming majority of Black voters...” were already Democrats. I recall hearing almost identical language from the elder Chokwe Lumumba hmself in 2012 or 2013, and before that dozens of times from other lips in other cities, other years. It’s an understandable position. Going to the people where they are, is another way to put it. It’s not unreasonable. I was part of efforts that did that for more than 20 years back in Chicago. Problem is it never works.
You certainly can leverage your movement credibility to get Democrats elected. Democrats are constantly on the hunt for people, methods and phony “movements” to accomplish precisely that. Why? Because they’ve learned that while the work of revolutionary nationalists, socialists and other left activists brings out the voters they cannot reach, those voters are powerless passengers on the Democratic party bus, not its drivers. First, there is no transmission belt whatsoever between the will of Democratic voters and the things Democrat politicians do when they get elected. Secondly, the revolutionary activists going into the Democratic party “to meet the people where they are” don’t hustle votes based on their messages of revolutionary transformation. They educate and they mobilize just enough to get people out to vote for Democrats on election day and that’s it. Again, I know this because I and others did it for 25 years in Chicago and I know others who do it to this day around the country. Kali Akuno summed it up nicely when he noted that after 3 out of 4 successful electoral contests in Jackson activists there still do not know how many local residents actually know about, let alone support the Jackson-Kush Plan of revolutionary social and economic transformation, because the activists campaigned as Democrats not as the revolutionaries they claim to be.
Comrade Akinyele says… or maybe these are words he puts into Chokwe Lumumba’s mouth, it’s unclear, that “...In Mississippi, the Democratic party is 80% black already… (and) ...totally independent from the reactionary politics that the Democratic party pursues on the national level.”
Really? If that’s true how do we explain the state’s most prominent black Democrat, Mississippi congressman Bennie Thompson voting for the murderous $700 billion war budget last month – $50 or $60 billion more than even Trump demanded with nary a public murmur from any other Mississippi Democrat? Thompson is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. His idea of bringing home the bacon to constituents in Jackson has been the erection of a new multi-million dollar FBI training facility. The biggest card Thompson plays at the annual Congressional Black Caucus gathering in DC is workshops to help you become a minority contractor with the Department of Homeland Security. Thompson regularly votes to re-arm, re-finance and reaffirm the racist colonial settler state of Israel too.
Once he became an elected Democrat, even the elder Chokwe Lumumba no longer felt free to publicly criticize Obama’s drone wars, his expansion of AFRICOM, his relentless drive to privatize public education, his unwillingness to go after the oily criminals who caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster, or the banksters who caused the housing crash, the decimation of black family wealth on his watch, and so on. So much for the “total independence” of Mississippi Dems from the reactionary policies of their national party, and so much for the ability of radicals to use elected offices won with that party “to fight for our peoples interests and to mobilize and organize them.”
Since comrade Akinyele seems unable to directly say what makes us me, Black Agenda Report, and Kali Akuno “ultra-leftists” I’ll take a stab at it. In his book, an ultra-leftist seems to be anybody outside of and to the left of the Democratic party.
He accuses us of disdaining electoral politics. That’s pretty strange, as I am one of the current co-chairs of the Georgia Green Party, which is launching yet another petition drive to obtain ballot access for our candidates here. Regrettably the Green party is relatively inactive in Mississippi. But in Georgia we are fighting to get ON the ballot, just not as Democrats, so that we can try to organize and mobilize and build with people on the basis of what we actually do believe, not what we pretend to believe so we can get elected.
Georgia’s Democratic party is largely black too, with a prominent black woman shaping up to be the leading Democratic contender for governor. By Akinyele’s logic we should be shoring up that rotten contraption and backing her, despite her outspoken advocacy of school privatization and support for paying cops from apartheid Israel to train police here at the university where Dr. Akinyele works.
The left in this country, including the black left lacks a robust tradition of public ideological struggle. We at Black Agenda Report are doing our part to fill that gap. Black Agenda Report has been and will n the future be proud and happy to run interviews, speeches and print articles with and by Kali Akuno and others which raise important questions about the ongoing work in Jackson. We are not afraid to link to or republish those who would answer us either. These are public matters to be examined and debated in public before interested activists.
I have written and recorded several pieces on Jackson myself, some of them critical. I posed the question of whether the new Lumumba administration would aim to transform the city or merely govern it. I questioned the current mayor’s participation in the Berniecrat Peoples Summit, and the Campaign For Electoral Justice, in which Rukia Lumumba, the sister of Jackson’s current mayor plays a leading role. But nothing I have written, nothing we have published in Black Agenda Report has been the least bit uncomradely, insulting or disrespectful. The only impolite name we’ve called anybody in this ongoing discussion is “Democrat.”
That’s not political one-up-manship, it’s not unprincipled, and it ain’t throwing shade. We hope, in Kali Akuno’s phrase, it’s casting light.
Bruce A. Dixon
managing editor, Black Agenda Report
I have provided links in the letter above to the work I have authored which prompted the response below of our comrade Akinyele Umoja. Here are some of the other works to which he is responds below,
Casting Light: Reflections on the Struggle to Implement the Jackson-Kush Plan, Part 1: A Response to Comrade Bruce Dixon , an essay by Kali Akuno
Cooperation Jackson's Kali Akuno: Elections Don’t Necessarily Change a Damn Thing a Black Agenda Radio interview with Kali Akuno
Democratic Party Affiliation in Mississippi “A Compromise Made In Error” Says Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno. by Bruce Dixon
Cooperation Jackson: Reclaiming Democracy and Building a Solidarity Economy in Mississippi and Beyond a This Is Hell interview with Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya
After Winning the Election Do We Govern the Place or Transform It? Kali Akuno on the Lessons of Jackson MS So Far a Black Agenda video of an Oct. 12, 2016 presentation by Cooperation Jackson's Kali Akuno.
The following is Dr. Akinyele Umoja’s December 1, 2017 article to which the open letter above is a response.
“Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories”: Response to Ultra-Left Attacks on the Lumumba Administration in Jackson, Mississippi
By Akinyele K. Umoja for the National Coordinating Committee of the New Afrikan People’s Organization
On May 2, 2017, 34-year old activist attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba defeated a field of eight other candidates to win the Democratic Primary election for Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. Lumumba surprised political pundits and experts as his campaign won the primary election with 55% of the vote against a State Senator, County Supervisor, and the city’s incumbent Mayor.
Chokwe Antar Lumumba is the son of former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a co-founder of our organization the New Afrikan Peoples Organization (NAPO) and its mass association and activist wing, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Baba Chokwe Lumumba served as NAPO Chairman from 1984 until 2013. Chokwe Antar received 94% of the vote in the city’s June 6, 2017 general election with his primary campaign slogan, “when I become Mayor, you become mayor.” Lumumba declared his intention to make Jackson, “the most radical city on the planet.”
While the Lumumba electoral victory was hailed throughout the Black liberation movement and by social justice activists around the United States as well as internationally, it has received some “shade” from ultra-left activist, promoting what they believe is a more revolutionary agenda for people’s power in the city of Jackson. What do we mean when we say “ultra-left” politics? Ultra-left politics is an orientation that overestimates the level of consciousness and organization of the people and capacity of the revolutionary movement while often engaging in sectarian politics divorced from the people’s struggle. We will examine this tendency in the Black liberation movement and how it applies to the critics of the electoral victories in Jackson and the administration of Chokwe Antar Lumumba. We are taking this stand because the Lumumba Administration and the work of NAPO/MXGM in Jackson has been publicly attacked by Bruce Dixon, a writer for The Black Agenda Report. We have considered Dixon to be a comrade, and we previously believed The Black Agenda Report to be a friendly publication. Additionally, The Black Agenda Report’s undermining attacks have included statements from former NAPO and MXGM member Kali Akuno representing his organization Cooperation Jackson. Though he formerly worked with us, since leaving our organization, Akuno has failed to engage in comradely struggle with us or with the Lumumba administration prior to these attacks. Because of these antagonistic attacks on our political work and movement, we see it as necessary to respond publically since many of our friends and allies have asked us for clarity. Certainly, we believe that Comrades have a right to express their political differences with us, but this should be done in the spirit of comradeship and of engaging us in principled dialog and ideological struggle rather for the purpose of political “one up-man- ship”. We can only build a movement and revolutionary solidarity, through principled relationship, and trust.
What is the New Afrikan People’s Organization and What Do We Want?
The New Afrikan People’s Organization’s ideological orientation is New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism. We want self-determination, independence, and national liberation for our people from U.S. capitalism and imperialism and desire a socialist future for our people. We are also internationalist, in solidarity with oppressed people across the globe to free ourselves from global capitalism, corporate plunder of the world’s natural resources and labor. We are aligned with radical and left political forces against neo-liberal and imperialist elites, nationally and internationally.
We believe that at its foundation the U.S. is a white settler colonial regime and an empire based on the exploitation of our Ancestors’ labor and the appropriation of the labor, resources, and territories of indigenous nations, northern Mexico (aka Colorado, California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico), Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hawaii. The ability of people of African descent to vote and have some representation in the U.S. empire is a result of the resistance and struggle for human rights of New Afrikan and other oppressed people, and consequential efforts of the State to quell that resistance by creating the illusion of inclusion and equality. Yet, this concession by the empire has also created the possibility of establishing bases of people’s power in Black majority areas like Jackson, Mississippi.
The rise of Fascism and Donald Trump in the empire, is primarily in reaction to the 2008 election of an “African-American”, Barack Obama. White supremacist sentiment catapulted the election of Trump with his brand of “America-first” nationalism to the leadership of the U.S. imperialist state. This form of neo-fascist, reactionary nationalism presents a danger to human rights and democracy not only for New Afrikans, but for all oppressed people’s. Under these conditions, NAPO believes that a strategy of “uniting the many to defeat the few” is necessary to fight the neo-fascist mobilization during this period. The Isolationist and sectarian politics of the ultra-leftists increases the danger of facilitating the “divide and conquer” strategies of the imperialists and the fascists.
Our History of Revolutionary Nationalist Struggle in Jackson
The New Afrikan People’s Organization founding Chair, Baba Chokwe Lumumba and his partner and soul mate, Nubia Lumumba, moved to Jackson from Detroit with their children, Rukia and Chokwe Antar, in 1988, though Baba Chokwe had first come to Mississippi in 1971 as a worker of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA). The PGRNA was founded in 1968 at a convening of 500 Black Nationalists in Detroit during the zenith of the Black Power movement. One hundred conference participants signed a Declaration of Independence from the United States and decided to form a new nation, the Republic of New Afrika or RNA. The RNA would be established in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, the states which had the highest percentages of descendants of enslaved Africans. The participants also established a provisional government until independence was achieved. Baba Chokwe Lumumba joined the PGRNA the following year and would first travel to Mississippi with the group in 1971. The PGRNA planned to organize for an independence vote in the contiguous Black majority counties running along the Mississippi River (primary in Mississippi, but including counties in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee) which the group labeled the Kush district. The PGRNA strategy was to organize the population in the Kush district to vote for independence in a United Nations supervised plebiscite (election). The FBI, state and local government officials and other white supremacist forces organized to stop the growth and development of the PGRNA in Mississippi through political repression, including military force. On August 18, 1971, eleven PGRNA workers, including President Imari Obadele, were arrested and ultimately convicted on felony charges after defending themselves from a pre-dawn raid by the FBI and Jackson police resulting in the death of Officer William Skinner and the wounding of a federal and another city officer. This became known as the case of the RNA 11. The raid was part of the FBI’s Cointelpro program to smash the Black Power movement. Repression ultimately weakened and neutralized the PGRNA organizing efforts in Mississippi. The ordeal of the RNA 11 motivated Baba Chokwe Lumumba to finish law school and become an attorney to defend political prisoners and Black people charged unjustly. Baba Chokwe, along with other former PGRNA workers and members of other Black Power movement formations, particularly the African People’s Party, the House of Umoja, the Black Panther Party, and the Revolutionary Action Movement, re-assessed the PGRNA Strategy, the New Afrikan independence and the general Black liberation movements. We decided to found a new organization, the New Afrikan People’s Organization, that would take a different approach than the PGRNA. We accessed that while the PGRNA had support and sympathy of the masses of Black people in Mississippi, the New Afrikans were still seen as “outsiders by grassroots, working class people. We recognized that if We were to be successful in a revolutionary movement, it would be necessary for our people to be part of the liberation movement, and not simply observers and/or sympathizers with it.
So, when Baba Chokwe and Nubia Lumumba moved to Jackson in 1988, they strove to become one with the Black community of Jackson and the state of Mississippi. Baba Chokwe became engaged in local activism and brought his law practice to Jackson. As an attorney, he fought against police terror and unjust incarceration, and for workers’ and human rights. He also began to coach young men in basketball and formed an amateur athletic program, the Jackson Panthers. Nubia, a flight attendant and entrepreneur was active in local churches in the city, particularly in the choir, and in parent associations of Rukia and Chokwe Antar’s schools. Baba Chokwe led the effort to recruit Black people from Mississippi into the ranks of NAPO and MXGM. While building NAPO and MXGM, Chokwe always worked with other organizations and groups in the city and state, including Marxists, Black nationalists, Pan- Africanists, and liberals based on the principle of “uniting the many, to defeat the few.” From these broad coalitions, NAPO and MXGM in Jackson led campaigns against white supremacist mobilizations, helped to re-open the Medgar Evers’ murder case (leading to the conviction of white supremacist Byron de La Beckwith), and fought for community empowerment efforts. Due to the Lumumba’s grounding and standing in Jackson’s Black community, Baba Chokwe was approached several times by local political activists to run for political office in the city.
How Did Revolutionary Nationalists Decide to Participate in Electoral Politics?
We debated our engagement in electoral politics from the inception of the New Afrikan People’s Organization. In Mississippi, we reached consensus that We would tactically run candidates who would advance the struggle for human rights and self-determination and who would challenge genocidal conditions of our people. We recognized that participation and representation in the empire’s political system at this stage of our struggle did not equate to a seizure of political power but it could be a vehicle and another arena to fight for our people’s interest and to mobilize and organize them.
NAPO/ MXGM proposed a new organizing initiative in Mississippi, the Jackson/ Kush Plan (JK Plan) in 2008. While the PGRNA had targeted the overwhelmingly Black population counties along the Mississippi River which it named the Kush district for a plebiscite or vote for independence from the U.S., NAPO/ MXGM’s new proposal for building towards self- determination in Mississippi focused on building people’s assemblies for political power and Mondragon-styled, worker-managed, economic cooperatives for a solidarity economy. The people’s assemblies and solidarity economy would serve as vehicles to promote dual power through participatory and economic democracy in the Black majority Kush District. Jackson was more than 80% Black and was the primary center for building a popular assembly and the JK Plan. The JK Plan envisioned building the assemblies as popular organs of parallel power and “vehicles of Black self-determination and autonomous political authority of the oppressed peoples’ and communities in Jackson.”
Baba Chokwe’s popularity and relationships and NAPO/ MXGM’s base built on two decades of activism in Jackson would serve as a vehicle to build the people’s assembly and the concept of participatory democracy through an electoral campaign centered around his candidacy. While there was popular demand for Baba Lumumba to run for Jackson’s Mayor, NAPO/MXGM’s leadership agreed for him to run for City Council in 2009. This decision not to “The Jackson Plan: A Struggle for Self-determination, Participatory Democracy, and Economic Justice,” run for Mayor in the 2009 election was based on our lack of experience running a political campaign. The campaign for City Council would establish the basis for the building of the firstPeople’s Assembly in Ward 2 in the northwest neighborhoods of the city of Jackson where his household resided. The Jackson MXGM chapter and friends of the campaign organized an Assembly in Ward 2 that developed Lumumba’s platform under the slogan, “The People Must Decide.” The Ward 2 Assembly’s platform was titled, “The People’s Platform.”
Baba Chokwe was opposed to running a symbolic campaign simply to demonstrate how much support We had, as some left electoral initiatives had run in the past. He asserted that if We were to mount the effort to engage in an electoral campaign, we should vigorously work to actually win the election. He believed that such a mobilization of human and material resources for only a symbolic message was wasteful, and a victory was possible in Jackson, given his reputation and standing in the Mississippi and the capacity of our organization in the city and nationally.
Independent Politics, the Democratic Party, and the People’s Assembly
One of the ultra-left critiques of our engagement with electoral politics is the entry of Baba Chokwe and current Mayor Chokwe Antar running in the Democratic primaries in municipal elections. Baba Chokwe and the Jackson NAPO and MXGM chapters decided he would run for City Council in the 2009 Democratic Primary. This tactical decision was based on the reality that the overwhelming majority of Black voters participated in the Democratic Party Primary in the election system for municipal office in Jackson and significantly less attention is given during the general election. Some left political forces attempted to pressure the campaign to run on an independent ticket by threatening to withhold financial support to the campaign. Baba Chokwe took the position that we had to rely on our people and not external forces as a primary source of support. The position to run in the Democratic Primary was based on Baba Chokwe and our Jackson NAPO and MXGM chapter assessment of our people’s political consciousness and how best to mobilize and ultimately organize them. Years before running for office, Baba Chokwe previously joined the historic Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). The MFDP was formed in 1964 to challenge exclusion of Black people from participation in the Democratic Party. Some local activists maintained the MFDP even after Black exclusion from the Mississippi Democratic Party was eliminated. When challenged by opponents in the 2009 City Council Race about his affiliation with the Democrats, Baba Chokwe replied, “I am not a member of the racist Democratic Party of the state of Mississippi, but, I am a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the party of Fannie Lou Hamer.” He would often proclaim himself a, “Fannie Lou Hamer Democrat.” Baba Chokwe’s grassroots campaign won the most votes in the 2009 Democratic primary in the Ward 2 elections in a field of eight candidates with 49% of the vote., He would win the runoff with 63% of the vote on May 19 (Malcolm X’s birthday) in 2009.
He would later argue that we needed to analyze the political reality that the Democratic Party in the state of Mississippi had become a predominately African-American political organization. He said; In Mississippi, you also have to look very carefully at what can be done to seize hold of the Democratic Party here and see if it can be turned into something. In Mississippi, the Democratic Party is probably 80% Black already. It also has been very much affected by Fannie Lou Hamer’s movement (the MDFP). It’s totally independent from the reactionary politics that the Democratic Party pursues on the national level.
He also considered the possibility of moving the Mississippi Democratic Party in an independent direction stating; ….If a progressive movement wanted to take hold of the structure, and they felt that that was the best move, I think that’s an important consideration …So understanding the need for a strong party, do we want to seize hold of the Democratic Party and convert that into what we need or do we want to build something totally independent? If we decide to build it independently, then the People’s Assembly also exists as the ground floor for that movement. So we have some options. We need to consider those and we understand that as workers in the movement, we don’t make those decisions independently of the people.
We agree with our late Chairman that the People’s Assembly is a revolutionary vehicle for building independent politics. The People’s Assembly is not affiliated with either the Democratic or the Republican parties. Moreover, it has the potential for mass political education and moving in a more autonomous direction.
We recognize the role of the National Democratic Party and the two-party system in the historic and current oppression of our people and the maintenance of the U.S. imperial state. On the other hand, we nor any other Black liberation or left force do not currently have the organizational capacity to mobilize people to win the general election outside participation in the Democratic Primary in Jackson.
The People’s Assembly concept was expanded city-wide in 2013, when Baba Chokwe Lumumba ran for Mayor. Again With 58% of the vote, Lumumba defeated entrepreneur Jonathan Lee on May 21, 2013 in a Democratic Party run-off and won the General Election with 87% of the vote in opposition to Republican and independent candidates weeks later. Rebounding from Tragic Loss and Reclaiming the Lumumba Legacy Our comrade, Baba Chokwe Lumumba unexpectedly joined the Ancestors on February 25, 2014, only nine months after being elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. When his son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba ran in the election to complete his father’s term, he was defeated by City Council President Tony Yarber.
Yarber, running on a neo-liberal platform, was supported by a record White voter turnout while Lumumba’s campaign was crippled by a low Black voter turnout though he enjoyed overwhelming support in the Black community. 2 Our forces were divided during the campaign and did not effectively mobilize ourselves and distinguish the Chokwe Antar candidacy from that of Yarber’s. The financial plight of the city worsened under Yarber’s neoliberal administration while additionally elements in the predominately white suburbs initiated campaigns to strip the predominately Black city of its airport and other publicly controlled resources.
NAPO/MXGM began to discuss whether Chokwe Antar should run for Mayor when Yarber’s term ended in 2017. A few, including some of our ultra-left comrades questioned why We should attempt to take political power in a city that was so financially challenged. Brother Chokwe Antar argued that not running would be abandoning the people of Jackson. He argued that by fighting to regain the Mayor’s office we could fight from a critical strategic position on the side of the people. Meanwhile Republican suburban political forces continued their plans to take over municipal resources and gentrify the city. In this context, we reasoned that the failure of the Grassroots Movement to promote a candidate would represent a serious retreat for the Kayla Diliza and Eric Ribellarsi, “Jackson’s Rise: Revolutionary Dreams in the Deep South,” Threshold Magazine, Vol I, (2016), http://thresholdmag.org/2015/01/18/jacksons-rise- reporting-on- revolutionary-dreams- in-the- deep-south/ (accessed 29 March 2016).
Jackson-Kush initiative. Chokwe Antar’s victory was significant in that it demonstrated mass support for his campaign and the People’s Platform, even though two of his opponents outspent him by two to one. The victory surprised most pundits who believed that with a field of eight candidates, none of them could win over 50% of the vote in the Democratic Primary and avoid a run-off.
How Should We Deal With Contradictions Among the People?
African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral argued in his classic essay, “Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories” that revolutionaries should:
Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. Both the administration of Baba Chokwe Lumumba and now that of Chokwe Antar Lumumba have consistently fought for the interest of the masses of Black people and their children.
Only weeks after the overwhelming victory, the Administration mobilized the community to challenge a Republican-inspired proposed take-over of the predominately-Black Jackson Public School system as an example of the commitment to fight for the people. Mayor Lumumba and our organizations determined to maintain this commitment to organizing the people to fight for material benefits and to live better and in peace with human rights.
Despite this however, the ultra-left forces have consistently attacked the Lumumba Administration, while at the same time promoting the work of Cooperation Jackson which originally was established as part of the work of the Jackson Kush plan, as the left alternative to the revolutionary work being done with the election of Chokwe Antar. Cooperation Jackson originally was established after the 2014 Jackson Rising conference as part of the MXGM strategic objective of building the solidarity economy of the Jackson Kush Plan. Cooperation Jackson is Directed by Kali Akuno, who terminated his membership to both NAPO and MXGM the day prior to the victory of Chokwe Antar as Mayor and consequently announced that Cooperation Jackson would no longer be affiliated with our organization. While it was intended to build worker owned and managed cooperatives and organize the Black working class in Jackson, Cooperation Jackson has not been able to develop a base of support among indigenous Black people in Jackson, particularly Black workers. This group has so far functioned merely as a non-profit to raise funds which seem to be dedicated primarily to employ a small clique of mostly transplants to Jackson. This group has failed to mobilize and organize Black workers in a city which is 80% Black and working class.
While it’s leadership has participated in the ultra-left attacks on the Lumumba Administration and the political work of NAPO/MXGM, Cooperation Jackson has relied on the legacy and used the name and image of Baba Chokwe and the Lumumba family and the history of NAPO/MXGM organizing in Jackson, to gain and maintain support locally, nationally, and internationally.
Building a solidarity economy is an important aspect of the Jackson Kush Plan. It will require relying on and being able to speak to the people and building an economic program based upon our people’s consciousness and aspirations. Our hope is that Cooperation Jackson can fulfill its promise to build the solidarity economy and work in ways that inspire and politically organize Black grassroots people in Jackson and distances itself from ultra-left attacks on the Lumumba Administration and our organizing work. Cooperation Jackson can no longer undermine the contribution and political commitment of Baba Chokwe Lumumba, while cloaking itself in his political and organizational legacy.
We call on Bruce Dixon and Kali Akuno, if you consider us comrades, to engage us in dialog. If you have critique after engagement, then so be it. Please present that critique in public forum. As Revolutionary Nationalists, we are open to debate strategy and tactics. On the other hand, we believe sectarian politics and ultra-left dogmatic positions isolate us further from our people and make us vulnerable to repression from the state. We also believe that when liberation forces and revolutionaries refuse to engage in comradely dialog and choose to undermine and attack each other in public forums, this serves the “divide and conquer” counterinsurgency strategies that we all should be familiar with from our revolutionary history and memory of COINTELPRO. As for us, we have moved beyond the infantile revolutionary practices of the 1960’s. We can only hope that our comrades will agree and engage us in principled revolutionary struggle.