Columnist Wendi Thomas says goodbye to Memphis

For the past two and a half years, she's made us think about our city and ourselves...

But now controversial columnist Wendi Thomas is leaving the Commercial Appeal.

I sat down with her before she left, to talk about her inspiration, her proudest moments, and her lasting mark on Memphis.

Her words were often provocative, sometimes harsh, but always heartfelt.

Thomas states, "I don't know.. Maybe just a combination of courage and naivete to just go for it."

Columnist Wendi Thomas is leaving the Bluff City to "just go for it" in Charm City, as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun.

Thomas continues, "It's the toughest professional decision I've ever had to make.. I grew up here, my parents are still here. This is home."

Thomas was known for getting to the heart of an issue... Taking the things we all wondered about or whispered about... And putting them in print.

"Knowing these people and growing up here, and going away and coming back.. It gives you a fresh perspective, but you still have that base of knowledge to build on, and I think there are a lot of people.. Black and white.. That are like.. What's going on.. What's in the water down there.. Forgotten who put them in office.. It wasn't God.. It was the voters.." Thomas continues.

Among her favorite open letter she wrote to Mayor Herenton..

"It was a dear Willie letter to Mayor Herenton at the beginning of his "god put me here" phase.. Which we're still enduring..." says Thomas.

There was also the black ballerina banned from her recital because her hair was in dreadlocks.

Then.. she tackled the water cooler topic about blacks not tipping well.

Thomas says, "After hearing from waitresses that tell me when Cogic came to town, they would all want that week off, because the saints didn't tip well..."

And, of course, who could forget her more that 20 columns about the famous Ford family.

"Some days it's like shooting fish in a barrel.. They just serve up stories to you on a platter," Thomas continues.

But through it all... She hopes one thing will resonate with readers...

Thomas states, "If there is a final analysis, I hope that it's that I really cared about my city. I cared about my home... And I wrote about things that I felt were important, and that hopefully in some small ways, it changed someone's life."