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Jackson Rising: Building the City of the Future Today

Perspectives and Priorities of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba on the Development of

Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi is a city on the move. On June 4
, 2013 the proud city of Jackson
elected me to serve as its Mayor to bring change to the city in the form of transparency,
deep civic engagement, and economic reform and justice. By electing my
administration the people of Jackson made a clear statement that they are desiring
fundamental change, are prepared to see it administered, and most importantly, to play
the leading role in implementing it.
Over the next four years, my administration will govern in accordance with human
rights principles and standards. Our goal is to create equity for all. Through broad civic
engagement, participatory and transparent governance, and sound fiscal management
we will build a sustainable future for Jackson. This future will be grounded in the
highest provision of public services in public works administration, city planning,
economic development, education, health care, transportation, and public safety. We
also aim to build a dynamic new economy rooted in cooperative development and
anchored by green jobs, living wages, and strong worker protections. The development
of this new economy will be driven by the emerging human rights, workers, youth,
immigrant, and green social movements in partnership with my administration and
socially responsible businesses, investors and philanthropies.
Contextualization: Where We Stand
Jackson, like many urban centers, is struggling to overcome decades of economic
divestment, deindustrialization, suburban flight, a declining tax base, chronic under and
un-employment, poorly performing schools, and an antiquated and decaying
While addressing all of these interrelated issues is important, the one that will assume
the greatest attention during my administration is the infrastructure crisis. In order to
ensure the health of our residents and rebuild our infrastructure to revitalize the
economic foundations of our city, we must improve our sewage, water treatment, and
drainage systems, repave and rebuild our roads and bridges, expand our transportation
systems, and modernize our energy systems. The most urgent infrastructure needs are
our sewer and water treatment systems. In November 2012 the City of Jackson signed
a Consent Decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of
Justice (DoJ), and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to
improve the sewer and water quality systems in the city.
The Consent Decree gives the city of Jackson 17 years to overhaul our water treatment
and sewage systems. The critical improvements to these systems will require hundreds
of millions of dollars to properly address. If the city is unable to make these
improvements at scheduled intervals, the Consent Decree may result in Jackson losing
control of its sewage and water treatment systems. My administration is determined to
ensure that Jackson will retain its control over these life sustaining systems.
Crises often present new opportunities. Jacksons infrastructure crisis can be a major
catalytic opportunity for our city and our residents. Over the course of the next 15 to 20
years, the city of Jackson will have to spend an estimated $1.2 billion dollars to repair
and upgrade its infrastructure. These infrastructure expenditures could potentially
generate a short-term economic boom for the city. However, the challenge is how will
we finance these critical infrastructure expenses? The lions share of the expense will
be financed through bonds and other forms of debt financing. But, relying on these
means of finance alone will place an overdue burden on future generations that my
administration is determined to avoid. Privatization is also not an option, under any
circumstances. Therefore, we are going to have to be very creative and innovative in
our approach to solving this critical issue.
How We Will Govern
We believe that the creativity and innovation will come from the genius within our own
community. We will stimulate and catalyze this genius by our practice and methodology
of participatory and transparent governance. This methodology is grounded in my firm
belief and grounding in human rights advocacy and promotion.
Human Rights Implementation
To ensure that the full complement of our residents human rights are respected,
protected, and fulfilled, my administration intends to implement the following policies
and programs:
1. Human Rights Charter. The Charter will establish the legal standing, policy
framework and institutional support of our municipality for the promotion and
protection of our residents human rights. We seek to institute the Charter with
the support and approval of the City Council, through the passage of an
ordinance establishing its full standing under the law.
2. Human Rights Commission. The Commission will serve as the implementing,
enforcement, and monitoring body for the Charter and the general programs it
commissions. The Commission will specifically address issues of compliance,
accountability, monitoring and documentation pertaining to how the government
fulfills its human rights obligations. The Commission will work in consultative
status very closely with civil society and the social movements of the city to fulfill
its mission.
3. Human Rights Institute. The institute will operate as a quasi-governmental, but
independent institution dedicated to human rights education and the broad
promotion of human rights. The institute will focus on providing human rights
education to all city employees and the community at large.
To design and develop these institutions, policies, and programs, my administration is
working closely with various local partners, including the Jackson Peoples Assembly,
the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Mississippi NAACP, One Voice, the Veterans
of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, the Mississippi Workers Center for Human
Rights, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, and Mississippi Immigrant Rights
Alliance, amongst others. On a national level we are partnering with the Praxis Project,
the Fund for Democratic Communities, the Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law
School, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, the Human Rights
Commission of Eugene, Oregon and the US Human Rights Network.
Participatory and Transparent Governance
There are numerous ways my administration will strive to elicit the broadest and
deepest participation of our residents to resolve the challenges confronting our city.
Our aim is to turn our challenges into opportunities for the empowerment of our
residents and the revitalization of our city.
Two prominent ways my administration will foster and encourage broad civic
participation amongst our residents are through participatory budgeting processes
and peoples assemblies.
1. Participatory Budgeting. Participatory Budgeting is a process of democratic
decision-making that encourages residents to directly deliberate upon and
determine budgetary allocations for the municipality. Our objective in engaging
the Participatory Budgeting processes is to place more power in the hands of our
residents and to deepen democracy in our community by making governance
more participatory. My administration is beginning to collaborate with
organizations like the Fund for Democratic Communities, the Democracy
Collaborative, and the Participatory Budgeting Project preparing to introduce
the Participatory Budgeting process to the city and to educate the government
and the community on various ways it can be applied in Jackson. Our objective is
to initiate the process in early 2014 to help us determine a portion of our 2014
2015 annual budget that will be more directly controlled by our residents via
their direct determination on how these resources should be allocated.
2. Peoples Assemblies. Peoples Assemblies are self-organized instruments of
peoples agency and power. As a human rights promoter and community
organizer, I have always advocated and supported the development of Peoples
Assemblies as a means to give voice and power to those who have systematically
been denied them in our society. Over the years as a member of community
organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, I have participated in
organizing Assemblies to elect the first Black Mayor of Jackson, to give voice to
those internally displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and to give voice to
the residents of Ward 2 and be directly accountable to them on an ongoing basis.
As Mayor I fully intend to support the efforts of the Ward 2 Peoples Assembly,
the Peoples Task Force, and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to build a city-
wide Peoples Assembly. In addition to supporting Peoples Assemblies, my
administration will consistently consult the Neighborhood Associations and other
institutions of civil society in our community as part of my commitment to build a
more vibrant and participatory democracy in Jackson.
Good governance through human rights advocacy and protection, we believe will
encourage and mobilize our city to unite as a community and create the long-term
solutions needed to solve our critical problems. In addition to human rights
implementation and participatory governance we believe that the implementation of our
core campaign agenda will lay the foundation for the long-term revitalization of
My Vision for the Future
Building the city of the future today, this is the prime directive of my administration.
Through the practice of participatory democracy and transparent governance we will
establish the foundations for equity and prosperity that will sustain the city for the
generations to come by concentrating on these four fundamental programmatic
objectives for the redevelopment of Jackson.
Rebuilding and Redeveloping Jacksons Infrastructure
As noted above, Jackson must overhaul and rebuild its infrastructure if the city is going
to revitalize itself. It is imperative that we rebuild our water management and waste
treatment systems, become more efficient in our energy consumption, diversify our
sources of energy, overhaul our streets, highways, and bridges, and create a
comprehensive public transportation system.
1. Water Management and Waste Treatment. We aim to completely overhaul these
systems by removing all of our antiquated pipes, pumps, and refineries and
replacing them with the most sustainable equipment and materials that we can
access. We also aim to reduce water consumption by installing newer, more
accurate and efficient meters, and by engaging in extensive community
education campaigns to reduce extraneous consumption. We will also reduce
hazardous runoff into our drainage systems by creating more stringent policies
and penalties.
2. Energy Efficiency. We aim to simultaneously diversify our energy sources and
significantly reduce our consumption. We will start by retrofitting all of the cities
buildings and facilities to ensure that they are energy efficient. We will also
convert all of the cities light pole fixtures to ensure that they use solar power
energy converters and efficient bulbs. We aim to utilize as much solar and wind
power as we can harness by supporting the building of solar power stations in
several strategic locations throughout the city that are currently vacant or
underutilized. We also aim to utilize several of these spaces to create wind farms
to harness electricity. Further, we also aim to develop programs that will
incentivize and subsidize the extensive cultivation of solar power in residential
areas, businesses, and governmental properties.
3. Repaving our Streets and Rebuilding our Highways and Bridges. We aim to
repave all of the major thoroughfares, arteries, and highways of our city
(excluding interstate highways) which need repaving. In doing so, we will use the
most eco-friendly and sustainable products currently available. We also intend
on retrofitting all of the bridges in our city, all of which are vital for transportation
and trade in our metropolis.
4. Creating a comprehensive Public Transportation System. We aim to lay the
foundation for the development of a comprehensive public transportation in our
city, based on a fleet of clean energy buses, an energy efficient Metro-Rail
system, and a comprehensive system of bike and walking trails.
Making Jackson the Greenest, most Sustainable city in the Southeast
My administration is fully committed to building a sustainable future for our city and
communities. Greening our infrastructure and transforming how we generate and
consume energy is the critical first step. But, it is only the first step. Additional steps we
are committed to taking include creating a comprehensive recycling system,
developing a zero waste management system, eliminating the use of toxins in our
community, creating a network of urban gardens and farms, and modernizing the cities
policies and codes for procurements, contract bidding, and departmental operations to
achieve this overall goal.
1. Recycling and Zero Waste. We are going to design and implement a
comprehensive recycling program for the city. The program will address not only
government facilities, but all of the cities residential and commercial facilities.
We will also incentivize waste reduction at the source in our households and
businesses by extensive education campaigns and policy change, such as pay
as you throw legislation.
2. Urban Gardening and Farming. To effectively utilize our abundance of land,
ensure the food security of our community, encourage and promote healthy
eating habits, and create long-term employment opportunities in impoverished
communities, my administration is promoting the growth and expansion of urban
gardening and farming. We are strongly encouraging the development of urban
farming cooperatives to produce to scale agricultural yields and serve the
health and employment needs of our community.
3. Policy Alignment. In order to make Jackson the most sustainable city in the
Southeast, we have to align our policies to meet our goals. In collaboration with
the City Council, my administration intends to overhaul all of our zoning,
permitting, procurement, contracting, and bidding processes to ensure they
reflect our vision and priorities and establish the means for my administration to
accomplish our goals.
Redeveloping West, South, Northwest and Downtown Jackson
To build equity in our marginalized and underserved communities we are committed to
concentrating our redevelopment resources to these strategic areas. Our objectives
are to rehabilitate considerable portions of the existing housing stock in these
communities to make them sustainable structures. We are also going to develop new
green, energy efficient housing complexes in these communities. We also aim to
incubate and attract businesses to provide jobs and serve these communities. To retain
and attract more youth and talent to our city, we are committed to building a dynamic
network of arts and entertainment venues to enhance and highlight the talents and gifts
of Jacksons residents.
1. Housing. My administration is fully committed to improving the overall housing
stock of the city to retain our existing population and attract new young, creative,
and enterprising residents. We aim to create thousands of new affordable
housing units in our target communities utilizing the most sustainable and energy
efficient methods and products available. We also aim to rehabilitate a
substantive degree of our existing housing stock for historic preservation and
2. Business incubation and employment. In order to revitalize our target
communities, we have to attract and create new industries to provide
employment for the residents in these communities and offer new retail and
service businesses to serve their consumer needs. We are strongly encouraging
the development of cooperative enterprises to serve these needs, but also
aggressively recruiting businesses nationally and internationally.
3. Arts and Culture. Jackson is deeply connected to the Delta Blues and the artistic
craftsmanship of the African American community. It also steeped in the history
of African American people for civil and human rights. My administration fully
intends on celebrating and promoting our culture and honoring the contributions
of those who sacrificed for the fulfillment of many of our fundamental human
rights as no Jackson administration ever has. Our aim is to use this cultural
capital as an engine to spur economic growth via tourism and the creation of
creative zones to support artists and cultural workers and encourage them to
produce social and economic value for our community.
Building a dynamic New Economy, based on Cooperative Development
A central component to the economic development vision and strategy of my
administration is the promotion and development of various cooperative enterprises. In
alignment with our vision of sustainability and to address our employment and
economic equity issues, we are particularly looking to stimulate and incubate green
manufacturing industries. We are also looking to encourage the growth of cooperatives
in the health services, recycling, waste management, hauling, warehousing, retail,
hospitality, and housing industries. My administration is developing the institutional
capacity to promote, incubate and develop cooperatives by committing a division of our
Department of Planning and Development to this task. We are also creating a strategic
cooperative fund and developing technical assistance partnerships with organizations
and institutions like the Fund for Democratic Communities, the Democracy
Collaborative, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the Malcolm X Grassroots
Movement, and Mondragon USA amongst others.
The broader aspects of our work to develop a new economy for Jackson, will
encourage the growth of the private sector in manufacturing, retail, and entertainment
sectors, and foster the development of various public private partnerships with
cooperatives, labor unions, credit unions, private enterprises, socially responsible
banks and investors, and philanthropies.
1. Cooperative Development. Cooperatives are rapidly becoming engines of
economic growth and employment stabilization in several urban centers
struggling with historic divestment and deindustrialization that are comparable
Jackson such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Reading (PA), and Richmond (CA).
Jackson in many respects is poised to become the Mondragon of the United
States, given its industrial infrastructure, strategic location along several trade
routes (I-20 connecting Atlanta to Dallas/Fort Worth and 1 55 connecting New
Orleans to Chicago), and historic knowledge and association with cooperative
development from the mutual aid societies, credit unions, and farmers
cooperatives developed in African American communities throughout the state.
2. Cooperative Incubator. As noted the Incubator will be housed in the department
of Planning and Development and will operate in partnership with numerous
academic and non-profit organizations from Jackson and throughout the United
States and the world in order to aid our communities and socially conscious
entrepreneurs with the technical support they need to build sound businesses.
These technical skills include business planning, market research and analysis,
sustainable financing, financial and asset management, and worker-owner
management and democracy.
3. Cooperative Fund. My administration is committed to creating this fund utilizing
city and CDBG funds. Given the infrastructure challenges we have noted, these
funds will not be as substantial as we would like. However, our aim is to use
these funds as strategic leverage to attract additional financial resources from
philanthropies, credit unions, banks, and socially responsible corporations,
various types of capital funds, and individual donors and investors.
One of our first major initiatives promoting cooperative development is the Jackson
Rising: New Economies Conference. The Jackson Rising Conference will be held in
May 2014 and focus on educating our community about cooperative enterprises and
how to start and run them effectively, in addition to addressing how cooperative
development can benefit the city of Jackson and how we will build cooperatives in our
community to build wealth and equity. We encourage all of the participants of the
Neighborhood Funders Group Conference to join us again for this conference in May
Moving Forward: Developing Strategic Partnerships to Our Needs
To address our infrastructure crisis and accomplish this ambitious vision, broad unity
and critical alignment will have to be achieved in our city. As stated before, we believe
we can and will achieve the unity and alignment needed through the practice of good
governance. Through this we believe that we will be able to produce the majority of the
resources we need to revitalize our community. But, we wont secure all of the
resources needed on our own.
We are going to have to secure some resources from the state of Mississippi, and even
more from the Federal Government. Given the growing political divisions at the State
and Federal levels, we doubt if we realistically will receive enough resources from
these sources to meet our projected expenditures of $1.2 billion for our infrastructure
overhaul, let alone the resources needed to redevelop our communities and improve
our public education system.
To become the City of the Future, the Sustainable, Cooperative city we envision, the
City of Jackson must form strategic partnerships with philanthropies and other non-
governmental entities that promote and support human rights, social responsibility,
transparency, civic engagement, participatory governance, community empowerment,
sustainability, and cooperative development. We encourage all those who share our
commitments and support our vision to join us in a strategic partnership on this
trailblazing effort to make Jackson Rise!
Contact Information
For more information about this vision and about how to support and partner with my
administration and the City of Jackson, please contact Kali Williams, Special Projects
and External Funding Coordinator in the Office of the Mayor.
Mr. Williams can be contacted at or 601.720.4638.