Herenton offers first glimpse of tell-all book - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Herenton offers first glimpse of tell-all book

Posted: Updated:
Willie Herenton Willie Herenton
MEMPHIS, TN -

By Ursula Madden - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton offered a first glimpse Monday at 'The Man In the Arena,' the new tell-all book he is penning about his personal and political life.

"I'm going to tell everything," Herenton said in an interview with Action News 5. "I'm going to talk about my personal, my professional. If you look at my outline, I talk about my strengths, I talk about my weaknesses, I talk about my mistakes. It's the whole deal"

The upcoming book's title is part of a quote taken from Theodore Roosevelt the former mayor says has often given him inspiration.  And in vintage Herenton style, the title is both a personal perspective of his life and a smack at his detractors.

"There was a crusade in the media and the justice system to take this guy out by any means necessary," he said.

Herenton plans to write about the grand jury investigation into his private business dealings, something he characterizes as a contrived witch hunt by some local elite who wanted him out of office.

"They had to get real creative," he said. "'This guy, he's not corrupt, can't give him any money, he's not going to take bribes.  How do we get him?'"

Herenton, who said there was never anything there, had a bite in his tone as he spoke about it.

"(They were) trying to characterize my legitimate business activities as being corrupt," he said.

Herenton believes his case was treated differently because of his race.

"You'll also see some double standards in the justice system," he said. "Some events were investigated and never came to the grand jury because they were committed by white individuals."

The book is not only about conspiracy and media bias, but also about the former mayor's rise to power.

"I was the guy who grew up in the slum, had no father in the home, wasn't destined to be anybody, who beat the odds," he said.

The filter of time has allowed Willie Herenton to examine and write about what he considers one of his greatest triumphs in office:  

"We defeated the toy town legislation, which would have been the demise of Memphis, Tennessee had it occurred," he said. "That was my greatest accomplishment - one of them."

And the former mayor calls the sale of MLGW his greatest failure.

"That's one public policy issue I did not anticipate, that the media and the unions would jump out on it with such hostility so quickly," he said.

But Herenton insists selling the utility was the right fiscal move.

And while many would consider his Congressional bid and primary loss to Steve Cohen a failure, Herenton made this cryptic statement:

"I did not lose an election," he said. "I'll just leave it at that."

The former mayor would not give a deadline on when his book would be finished, but said he wants it to reach a national audience.


WEB EXCLUSIVE: Herenton also revealed what he called the 'rules of survival' for African-Americans with a political future in the Mid-South.

"If you're African-American, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think you can do what the white man does," Herenton said. "I had black folks coming up to me (saying), 'Well, white folks did it.' That's the first time you're gonna get in trouble."

>>See more of our web exclusive by clicking here<<

Then, tell us what you think by leaving a comment in the space provided below.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow