The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr.

Share on Social Media

Information about The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr.

Profile image of The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr.

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Mayor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oatmeal
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New York City
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/17/1944
Birth Location:
Lebanon, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Mayor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oatmeal
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New York City
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/17/1944
Birth Location:
Lebanon
See how The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. was born on August 17, 1944 in Lebanon, Tennessee. In 1966, he graduated from Tennessee State University with his B.A. degree in political science. Wharton then received his J.D. degree in 1971 from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he graduated with honors and was one of the first African American students to serve on the Moot Court Board and the first to serve on the Judicial Council.

Wharton first worked in Washington, D.C., at the Office of General Council of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for two years, and then for a year at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he headed the Public Employment Project. In 1973, Wharton moved to Memphis, Tennessee and was hired as executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services, a nonprofit organization providing civil legal assistance to low-income citizens. Then, in 1974, he became the University of Mississippi’s first African American professor of law, a position that he would hold for twenty-five years.

In 1980, then-Shelby County, Tennessee mayor, Bill Morris, appointed Wharton as Shelby County’s Chief Public Defender. Wharton chaired the county’s Jail Overcrowding Committee; and, in 1982, wrote and saw passed one of the first state laws in the United States to combat domestic violence. In addition to his role as a public defender, Wharton and his wife established the law firm of Wharton and Wharton in 1980.

In 2002, Wharton was elected as the first African American Mayor of Shelby County, and was re-elected in 2006. As Shelby County Mayor, he established Operation Safe Community, the area's first comprehensive crime-fighting plan, developed the community’s first smart growth and sustainability plan, and tackled education and early childhood development issues with programs like “Books from Birth” and “Ready, Set, Grow.” Wharton also improved the management and accountability of the County's Head Start program. His reforms attracted the attention of the United States Congress, where he was called to testify before the House Committee on Education.

In October of 2009, Wharton was elected as the Mayor of the City of Memphis, and was re-elected in 2011. He is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, and has addressed major policy institutions and conferences of the Brookings Institute, CEOs for Cities, and the National Association for Counties.

Wharton lives in Memphis with his wife, Ruby. They have raised six sons.

A C Wharton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2014.

See how The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. talks about the origin of his name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls a lesson from his father, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls a lesson from his father, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Slating of The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. remembers his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. talks about his mother's aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. talks about his mother's career as a barber
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls his father's first grocery business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Sr. talks about his early understanding of reproduction
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls his parents' religious affiliations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. lists his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls his father's work schedule
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his family's home in Lebanon, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. talks about the farming economy in Lebanon, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls the history of Tater Peeler Road
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes the sights and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. remembers his work ethic as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes his family's reading habits
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. recalls selling Baltimore Afro-American newspapers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. remembers the influence of his teachers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. remembers Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. remembers the murder of Emmett Till
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable A C Wharton, Jr. describes the telephone system in the 1950s