Funeral arrangements are expected to be released later this week for Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who died at age 66.
The Hinds County coroner said the mayor died of natural causes at 4:55 p.m. Tuesday at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson.
Lumumba became mayor in July. He defeated incumbent Harvey Johnson in the Democratic primary and then went on to defeat Jonathan Lee in the general election.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of the promising new mayor of our Capital City, the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba,” said Rickey Cole, the chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “His young administration has been a great beacon of hope for so many of us. He was just beginning to make an effective start tackling the long-neglected challenged faced by our Capital City.”
Gov. Phil Bryant also issued a statement Tuesday evening after hearing of Lumumba’s death.
“Deborah and I are shocked and saddened by the news of Mayor Lumumba’s passing and are praying for his loved ones,” Bryant said. “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.”
One of the triumphs of Lumumba’s time as mayor came last month, with the 90 percent approval from voters of a 1 percent sales tax increase, which goes into effect Saturday. The revenue will go to fix Jackson’s water, sewage and street issues.
Lumumba had previously served on the City Council and worked as an attorney, often championing civil rights causes.
Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro, and changed his name in 1969, when he was in his early 20s. He said he took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.
Lumumba had battled cancer and when asked, said he was a cancer survivor.