Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who persuaded voters here to accept a sales tax to fix crumbling roads and dated water and sewer systems, died Tuesday, the authorities said. He was 66.

City officials said Mr. Lumumba died at St. Dominic Hospital. A cause of death was not immediately clear, though the City Council president, Charles Tillman, who was sworn in as acting mayor, said he met Monday with Mr. Lumumba, who had a cold.

“He kind of joked around about it,” Mr. Tillman said.

Mr. Lumumba served one term on the City Council and was sworn in as mayor last July. He was one of two candidates who defeated then-Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in the Democratic primary in early June. He defeated Jonathan Lee, a businessman, in the general election.

As mayor, Mr. Lumumba persuaded voters in this capital city to pass a referendum in January to add a one-cent local sales tax to help pay for improvements to an aging infrastructure.

State law says the Council will set a special election for voters to choose a new mayor. The Council has up to 10 days to meet, then the election must be held 30 to 45 days later.

Mr. Lumumba was born in Detroit as Edwin Taliaferro and changed his name in 1969, when he was in his early 20s. He said he took his new first name from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago and his last name from the African independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

He moved to Jackson in 1971. He went to law school in Michigan and returned to Jackson in 1988.

Mr. Lumumba was involved with the Republic of New Afrika in the 1970s and ’80s. He said in 2013 that the group had backed “an independent predominantly Black government” in the southeastern United States. Mr. Lumumba was vice president of the group for a time. The group also supported reparations for slavery, and was watched by an F.B.I. counterintelligence operation. 

 

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