Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor of the City of Jackson
The Rotary Club of Jackson was pleased to welcome the Honorable Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, to speak.
After President Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi, called the meeting to order, saying Rotary is a place where you can connect with your friends and just be yourself, Allan Cole of Hampton Ascent Hospitality gave the opening prayer, Johnny Donaldson, president of BankPlus Jackson, led the pledge of allegiance and Neddie led the Rotary 4-way test.  Kathy Hackshaw of the Outlets of Mississippi introduced and welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests of Rotarians.
The head table included City Councilman Ashby Foote of Vector Money Management, the president and CEO of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Duane O’Neill, the owner of Trans-America Life Insurance Agency Howard Catchings and businessman LeRoy Walker, who introduced Mayor Lumumba.

Mark Fields, of Woodmark Investments, said to save the dates of October 9 – 11 and October 11 – 14 for the Heart of America Zones 30 and 31 Rotary Institute in Montgomery, Alabama which will feature Ambassador Andrew Young as a speaker.
Keith Ferguson, of LogoStoreUSA, and chair of our Rise Against Hunger project, said to mark March 2, 2019 on the calendar as that will be when the RCJ will be joined by the Rotary Club of North Jackson to pack food packets to send to the world’s most vulnerable families.  He also advised members to wear a cap so they will not have to wear a hair net.
The Rotary District 6820 Leadership Institute Parts I, II and III will be held August 25 at Jackson First Church.  This is open to all Rotarians.
Mayor Lumumba is an attorney in Jackson who became mayor in 2017.  He enthusiastically noted that this is a special moment in our city, pregnant with possibilities.  He recently attended a meeting in New York that included 40 mayors from around the world. They are aware of what is going on in Jackson.  We have been described as the most radical city on the planet, maybe too radical to work together.  However, he looked up the word “radical” and saw it is an individual who seeks change.  We need to be prepared to be as radical as the situation dictates. We must support justice no matter who it is for or against.  This city should provide a good quality of life for its citizens, giving them not only the dignity but also the services they deserve.  As the Rotary 4-way test says, “being fair to all concerned” must be our main concern, controlling our decision-making process.  Collective wisdom says we are smarter all together rather than individually.  We must listen to each other.  The Mayor must listen.

Data is used to determine what has failed in the past and what best practices we must use to go forward.  In some areas we have become comfortable with disfunction.  We must adjust for robust business involvement.  We must keep our eyes on the prize, must plan for success in economic development.  For example, we have no movie theater in the city.  If we did, people attending would likely eat at nearby restaurants and shop too. We have a problem maintaining wealth.  We must pursue a vision, not just chase a project. He bragged on his administrative team.  They have done a downtown feasibility study, not just for convention center attendance, but for activity in the entire downtown area.  We need opportunities for residential development to attract citizens to stay downtown rather than returning to their homes outside the area.  We are in the process of moving forward in that direction. 

The population we are losing at the highest rate are the millennials, as it is in the state.  They like walkable cities, don’t need a car, like public art and like urban spaces. The most positively talked about project in downtown Jackson lately was the Greater Jackson Arts Council’s “Welcome to Jackson” mural.  We deserve to have a city that our children will want to come back to after college. He spends quite a bit of time with the legislature discussing not our differences, but our unity of goals.  There is currently a lot of investment in Jackson.  The Lamar Life Building and the Edison Walthall Building restorations for residential, the Landmark Center restoration for residential and a grocery store, making a walkable downtown by taking away a few parking spaces and putting in parklets (very small parks along the street), installing new parking meters, adding new signage to navigate downtown and planning a robust transit system are a few projects going on right now.  Farish Street must happen.  We are looking at how to make Jackson more attractive to new business and escalate the medical corridor. 
Mayor Lumumba feels downtown Jackson will be just fine, and they are also working to make sure this prosperity reaches into the communities of Jackson as well. 

Neddie invited Mayor Lumumba to come back in the future to give us an update on this activity.