MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An unconventional New Jersey mayor who took some extreme measures to take back his neighborhood paid a visit to Memphis Friday.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker spoke to Memphis leaders, hoping to inspire them to do the same.
Booker said he was an admirer of Memphis.
"From arts and industry to education even greening of a city, it's one of the most green cities of America. People don't realize that," Booker said.
In fact, he said, the Bluff City gave him passion and enthusiasm as an elected leader in Newark.
"There's so much that we saw in Memphis as inspiration for my work. That's why I feel a spiritual connection to this city," Booker said.
It was that unconventional spirit that brought Booker national headlines as an innovator and leader. The Yale graduate moved into public housing as a young city councilman to fight for public housing reform. As Newark's mayor, he lived out of a double wide trailer in the highest drug infested areas of his city.
"But they really were some of the most substantive years in my life because I got to be surrounded by some of the greatest leaders and Americans I've ever seen who did not give up. Had choices to be other places but chose to stick it out and fight for their neighborhoods," Booker said.
The Leadership Academy in Memphis organized an event with hundreds of Memphis and Shelby County business and community leaders hoping to inspire leaders here.
"Very unique. He's very talented. He's gifted and again he has a tremendous passion," Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said.
"If you've got a good product you are going to have support across the board and that's what I've tried to do here and I think that's going to be the style of Memphis to come," Mayor AC Wharton said.
An inspired leader talking about his success to help people here better the Mid South.