Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, who resigned in June after boycotting public meetings in protest of the state’s financial intervention, moved to the heartland of Mississippi to work for new Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a Detroit native and outspoken advocate of black empowerment.
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Kenyatta is serving as the mayor’s compliance officer, a watchdog position to ensure that any business, nonprofit or government agency doing work with the city does not discriminate based on race or gender.
As a councilman, Kenyatta often criticized the city’s reliance on suburban contractors and called on Mayor Dave Bing to hire more Detroiters and black-owned businesses.
Kenyatta, who spent much of his last council term sick, was among the first aides hired by Lumumba, who was inaugurated as mayor on July 1.
Lumumba was born on Detroit’s west side in 1947 as Edwin Finley Taliaferro and graduated from St. Theresa High School. Deeply impacted by the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Lumumba began attending demonstrations, and in 1975, he graduated at the top of his class from Wayne State University Law School.
Lumumba became a defense attorney and eventually moved to Jackson where he practiced law, served as a councilman and advocated for racial equality.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.