3.30.14 - Honoring the Fighting Legacy of Chokwe Lumumba

To the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, New Afrikan People's Organization, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Friends and Family of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba:

On behalf of National Women's Liberation, I write to send our love and solidarity as you mourn the great loss and celebrate the life of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. I attended the celebration of Chokwe Lumumba in Brooklyn last night and was struck by the powerful, radical community present in the church. There was a feeling of hope and strength that inspired me as a women's liberation fighter and labor union organizer. The stories, laughs, ritual, leadership, community, political unity and honesty, raised the bar for me as an organizer and the kind of community we all need to build to make radical change. A testament of that was when his daughter, Rukia Lumumba, movingly spoke of this community that she could count on now that her parents were gone and then spoke of her dedication to continuing to build that work as a member of it.

We lost an important freedom fighter on February 25, 2014. When I heard the news, my heart sank. Our best radical movements are strong, but when leaders like Chokwe Lumumba die, the loss is a big hit. While I didn't know Lumumba personally, I knew MXGM and have long respected the deep, thoughtful work you all do. When we were forming National Women's Liberation we looked to Malcolm X Grassroots Movement on important questions of structure and decision-making. We consulted with members of MXGM as we were building our member-based group to fight for women's liberation. We are grateful for the work Lumumba and others did to build this group and owe some of our foundation to lessons we've learned from you.


There are many contributions to the freedom fight I could cite in celebration of Chokwe Lumumba's life - freeing the Scott sisters, defending Assata Shakur, founding MXGM and the New Afrikan People's Organization. Many groups have written extensive memorial statements that moved me immensely. So I echo all that they have commended him for. I would like to add that from last night's celebration the two things that struck me most about this beloved freedom fighter was his courage in challenging authority and how deeply he trusted the people. From stories of him challenging a judge and calling him a racist dog, to building a defense for Mutulu Shakur arguing his acts were not criminal offenses but acts of war and resistance in the face of genocidal oppression in the United States. These were just some of the bold and brave examples that inspire me to be a better activist.

Probably most moving though was his belief in the people. I wrote down in my notebook a quote of his that someone cited, "If you don't love the people, sooner or later you'll betray the people." As I learned more and more about his politics throughout the service, I kept thinking, this man ran for office and was the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi? There is just no way he could have done that without an intense belief in the people and an amazing ability to explain his learning process. As a feminist activist and union organizer, sometimes I shortcut when there is a high stakes election coming up or when a concept is difficult to explain (probably when I haven't taken the time to try to understand it better myself). Listening to Chokwe Lumumba's comrades speak about his politics, about how true he stayed to his beliefs and the movement, and how much he accomplished among the people - it made me reflect and want to be a better soldier of the people, a better leader. Thank you for sharing the life and lessons of your visionary leader, loving father, steadfast comrade. We pledge to put them to good use in carrying forward our corner of the freedom banner.

In Solidarity,
Erin Mahoney
On behalf of National Women's Liberation
March 30, 2014