Jackson’s divided house being torn apart

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Dr. Ivory Phillips

Jackson’s crime rate keeps going up. It will surely break the record of last year. We hate to see it happen, but that is how it is presently. Deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise as people refuse to mask-up or get vaccinated but take horse medicine instead. The ratings of Jackson’s public schools plummet due to inadequate funding. Jacksonians and visitors to Jackson continue to dodge potholes. The litany of ills could go on and on and could continue to multiply without cease.

Just months ago, Jacksonians attempted to take a giant step toward solving some of these matters by selecting a set of city leaders who had made believable promises about Jackson’s future under their leadership. Whatever rifts there had been were diminished or at least not discussed as people went to the polls.

Now, two months later, there is a different story. Last week, in the middle of a discussion about the city’s rising crime rate, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba admitted that things are so bad between he and Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes that he does not talk to Stokes. How gut-wrenching can the news become?

With both men getting re-elected by substantial margins, the truth is that each has a large number of strong supporters. Let’s hope that this does not mean that for the next four years there will be a serious division in city government on its major issues.

We had written about this rift last year and hoped that it had been mended. As indicated at that time, the writer was personally torn because he has long supported Councilman Stokes and has supported Mayor Lumumba since his first effort to succeed his father in office.

Both men have a great deal to offer this city and the city needs all the help that it can get, given its low and declining tax base and the apparent bias against it by some powerful legislators. This, then, is a plea to both leaders to come together for the sake of the city. It is a plea to those who may have a strong influence on the two men to help bring them together. It is good that they did not use the last campaign to tear one another farther apart, but we still need the mending to take place.

We saw some of the efforts of certain state leaders to take advantage of the rift, commenting favorably and offering assistance based upon personal relationships. The community must remain astute enough to see what is happening and not allow people who are no friends of the city to play such politics to their detriment.

The roles which the office of the mayor and the city council can play are not all-encompassing, but they are crucial. The quality of the policing of the city, the competency and economy of public works projects, the dispensing of city services, the drawing and letting of contracts, and even the manning of certain city offices depends upon the mayor and the council. The more cooperative they are, the more smoothly things can run. They can save the city time and money by how they deal with one another. Citizens realize that the eight leaders are not going to be on the same page on every issue, but they should expect them to be civil and cooperative toward one another on all matters.

Just as a sacred scripture writer quoted Jesus as saying, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln made the same observation as the Civil War was pending. Surely, Black history has taught African Americans that lesson. It now needs to be emphasized for the benefit of Councilman Stokes and Mayor Lumumba. Jackson cannot long stand divided. We are already being ripped asunder.

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Jackson’s divided house being torn apart

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
September 15, 2021