Jackson’s 3rd black mayor, same divide: Geographical segregation makes consensus difficult

Sixteen years have passed since Jackson’s first black mayor took office, but the third African American to hold the office, Chokwe Lumumba, will face a city troubled by many of the same racial divisions that existed in 1997.

African Americans have made huge strides in political representation since that time, outnumbering white Jacksonians in city elected office three to one. It’s no longer a question of whether Jackson will elect black leaders, but whom.

Still, the Jackson of 2013 is strikingly familiar, even as things have changed.

Jackson remains geographically segregated, with 76 percent of its white residents living in two of the city’s seven wards. And although both candidates in this year’s Democratic runoff were of the same race, voters were still heavily divided along racial lines, with those two wards voting overwhelmingly for Jonathan Lee.

These divisions continue to have a profound impact on how Jackson’s leaders are elected and on how they govern.

Clarion Ledger