Former Memphis Mayor Herenton's portrait revealed

(WMC-TV) - The official portrait of former Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton was unveiled in the Memphis City Hall of Mayors Thursday.

The former mayor was assisted in unveiling his portrait by his 90-year-old mother.

"I remember that night at the Peabody," said Herenton.  "Memphis will never be the same.

Herenton stands out as an example of progress as the city's first and longest serving African American mayor.

"I grew up like 12 blocks from here, and never dreamed I would be the mayor of this city," said Herenton.

Herenton was quick to point out the differences between his portrait and the others.  The three before his are in a gold frame, but his is black and gold.

This is also the first time an African American artist's work has hung in the Hall of Mayors.  Larry Walker was commissioned to paint the portrait.  He said he has been begging for the job for 18 years.

"The meaning is kind of overwhelming for me because I remember telling my mother, and I told her, 'Mom, it happened,'" said Walker.

Herenton's mother helped him remove the black cloth that covered the portrait.  The painting shows Herenton in his former office with the American flag and the seals for Memphis and Shelby County behind him.

The portrait cost the city $10,500.  The former mayor had to sit four times for it to be completed.

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