A Conversation With Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton

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The last six months have put a spotlight on racism, social and economic inequality, and the relationship between police officers and the communities they've been hired to protect.

Memphis comes from a unique perspective: 64 percent of its residents are African-American and it's one of the poorest cities in the United States.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson turns to A.C. Wharton, mayor of the City of Memphis, to hear his views on the recent events and to check in on how his city is faring.

Interview Highlights

On the difficulty of supporting the community and the police department

“As mayor of a large urban city in which the same kindling that gave rise to the fires in New York and other cities are right here in Memphis. So we’re always reluctant to weigh in and make any comment on what’s happening in another city. We’re all walking precariously, trying to just toe that tightrope between saying that this is America and everybody has the right to demonstrate and speak out – which they do. On the other hand, what is incendiary, what is too much? What are the limits? We’re all so afraid – I talked to mayors all over the country, and we’re all just wondering, ‘Could it happen here?’ I don’t know quite frankly. It could. I guess all I can say Jeremy is that all life is precious.”

On how mayors should handle potential clashes 

“You want mayors that are reflective. Who learn that words can be just as lethal as bullets. It’s just amazing that we don’t have more confrontations like this.


This segment aired on December 23, 2014.


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