Symposium To Explore Jackson, Mississippi, as Case Study of Economic Democracy and Community Self-Determination

These models of economic democracy and Black community self-determination are the subject of a free, two-day public lecture and symposium at Hampshire College featuring a panel of Jackson city leaders, political strategists, and community organizers.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, November 8, at 4:00 p.m., in the Robert Crown Center, followed the next day by a presentation and workshop, on Friday, November 9, at Noon at Prescott Tavern.

The lecture's panelists on Thursday are:

  • Rukia Lumumba was campaign manager for Mayor Lumumba, her brother. She is the founder of the People’s Advocacy Institute and co-coordinator of the Electoral Justice Project. A legal professional and community organizer, she is currently leading the Democratic Visioning initiative in Jackson to create a model that increases community resources and governmental power. She spent the past 11 years defending the human rights of prisoners, working with community advocates to alter the landscape of injustice in American courts and prisons. She and Antar are children of the late Jackson mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Nubia Lumumba.
  • Safiya Omari is Mayor Lumumba’s chief of staff. She earned a PhD in experimental social psychology from Northeastern University, and her research interests lie in mental health, effects of gender, race, and culture on health behaviors and psychological well-being, violence against women, and discriminatory stress. She has published and presented nationally and internationally in these areas and has been honored on numerous occasions for excellence in scholarship and teaching, and for her work in the larger Jackson community. Omari has always identified herself as a scholar/activist and continues to work with a number of community groups to address issues of social justice and mental health. She is an officer and member of several nonprofit boards.
  • Charles Taylor is the principal of Peyton Strategies, LLC, a political data management firm, and a member of Freedom Side, a national collective of social-justice community organizers. He served as an organizer for the Mississippi Conference NAACP 2012 “This Is My Vote” campaign, which registered more than 29,000 African Americans to vote in Mississippi. Taylor was a field director and campaign coordinator for the Better Schools, Better Jobs (Initiative 42 in Mississippi to fully fund education). Recently, he consulted for One Voice Inc. as a data manager and was a community organizer for Energy Democracy. He is a graduate of Morehouse College (philosophy).

This year’s symposium will continue the next day, Friday, November 9, with an exciting presentation followed by an activist workshop and exchange. Keynote lecturers Rukia Lumumba and Charles Taylor will join Iya’falola Omobola, former co-director of Cooperation Jackson, and Leah Penniman, cofounder and co–executive director of Soul Fire Farm, for an opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences. Participants will learn about Black-led cooperative economics, food sovereignty, and the role of environmental justice in the fight against racism and state violence. The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. in Hampshire’s Prescott Tavern.

Both events are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. For questions or to request interpretation, please email


The annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture Series honors the teaching, scholarship, and activism of the late Eqbal Ahmad, who was a longtime Hampshire College professor. Professor Ahmad’s faculty colleagues, former students, family, and friends from around the globe have joined to make this lecture series a continuing celebration of his life and work. Previous Eqbal Ahmad lecturers were Kimberlé Crenshaw, Kofi Annan, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Seymour Hersh, Tariq Ali, and Black Lives Matter founders Patrice Cullors, Opal Tometti, and Alicia Garza.

Visit the lecture series website.

The event is sponsored by the Eqbal Ahmad Initiative, Office of the President, Ethics and the Common Good, and a grant from the Roddenberry Foundation.