Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Herenton's Racial Rhetoric "the Antithesis of Everything I Stand For," Says Mayor Wharton

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 11:37 PM

Mayor wharton during the panel discussion
  • JB
  • Mayor wharton during the panel discussion
Given the widening stir caused by ex-Memphis mayor Willie Herenton’s racially based remarks at the kickoff for his 9th District congressional campaign on Saturday, it was perhaps inevitable that Herenton’s successor, Mayor A C Wharton, would have to respond to it.

Wharton did so on Tuesday evening at the University Club, during and after his participation in a panel on consolidation conducted by the Inns of Court, an invitational organization comprising members of the local legal community.

Following the panel discussion, Wharton was asked directly what his reaction had been to Herenton’s rhetoric, with its essential appeal to African American voters in the 9th District to observe racial solidarity.

The mayor responded forthrightly but cautiously. “I’ve always made it clear that that is the antithesis of everything I stand for. But at the same time I refrain from being the standing commentator on everything he might say. Otherwise I’d have to go into commentating full-time,” he said.

As he had during his remarks to the group at large, Wharton was candid about the reality of racial schisms in the community. “We have a history of racial voting. We’ve got to deal with that…But everybody knows that it is not what I stand for,” he said.

Earlier, in his remarks to the legal audience, Wharton had named racial divisiveness as one of the obvious obstacles to political unity in the community at large. “The question of race is always there,” the mayor said, and, though it was “not spoken as it once was,” it remained pervasive.

“Some would suggest that all you would have to do is just call a big Kumbaya session. Everybody would just get on the blanket and say ‘Peace, brother, peace sister,’ and we’d all just come together in love and harmony. That is not the real world in which we live.”

The only way to deal with the race issue is to be “open and honest about it,” Wharton said. “We’re going to have to deal with that issue openly and honestly…. It makes it difficult, but let’s just be candid. We know Memphis. We know Shelby County. Let’s just be candid and open-minded.”

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

    • Members of Congress React to Trump Speech

      Congressmen Cohen and Kustoff, Senators Alexander and Corker weigh in on President's adderess to joint session.
    • Haslam Clears Way for District 95 Special Election

      On Thursday, March 2, Gov. Bill Haslam issued a writ ordering a special election to replace ex-Rep. Mark Lovell in state House District 95. The primary election date is Thursday, April 27, and the general election will be held on Thursday, June 15. The Shelby County Commission may meanwhile proceed to name an interim successor.

Speaking of School Consolidation


Readers also liked…

Most Commented On

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation