Wharton talks to students about city's future

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor AC Wharton spent Wednesday morning with a group of students at Booker T. Washington High School, who asked him some challenging questions about the future of our city.

Wharton said he wanted to speak with the city's youth because they represent the future.  But their concerns for the city and it's future were well beyond their years.

When one student asked if Memphis would have jobs after she finished college, Wharton encouraged her to come back.

"Memphis is going to be a good place," he said. "In five years, come back.  Get in on the ground floor.  Make sure we stay in touch with you."

The teens wanted to know if a new approach to safety would help crime continue in a downward trend.

"A 17% drop (in crime) last year.  That's good.  That's unprecedented.  I want to make sure it stays that way by coming up with work opportunities, recreational opportunities, and after-school programs," Wharton said.

Advanced placement student Taurean Haynes asked if his recently imprisoned classmate had a future.

"Some of my classmates are not as fortunate as I am," Haynes told the mayor.

Wharton told him life is about second chances and prevention.

"If you legitimately and sincerely tell somebody "I need some help," they're going to help," he said.
"Maybe his dad wasn't around to show him the right way," Haynes said. "You have your mom, but your mom can't teach you how to be a man."

For DaLasha Barlow, Wharton's message hit home.

"Instead of leaving, staying here and helping build the city of Memphis instead of bringing it down," she said.

Students said they felt Wharton might address issues ignored in the past, and expressed hope in Memphis' future.

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