MEMPHIS, Tenn. —The Holiday Inn ballroom near the University of Memphis was packed New Year's Day.
For hundreds of people, it was a time for prayer and optimism as Mayor Jim Strickland reflected on his administrations accomplishments in 2017.
The mayor also stressed his goals for the New Year.
"It's been mentioned, and you know by now, that a couple of week's ago we removed symbols in our community that only served to divide us at a time that Memphis needs to be more united than ever," Mayor Strickland said.
While Mayor Strickland spearheaded efforts to remove statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis on Dec. 20, he gave much of the credit for those historic events to Memphis' faith-based community.
"Black and white. Conservative and liberal. Christian, Jewish and Muslim. All were united, and I think you saw just how powerful it can be when we all come together in Memphis," the mayor said.
Mayor Strickland also stressed the "victory" is overshadowed by a disturbing climate of violence among juveniles, especially those injured or killed by guns.
The mayor encouraged those in attendance to become mentors and to help young people make a positive difference.
"Let it be known in the eyes of this mayor and this administration, they are not a lost cause."
"The children are the future of the city. Many of them, before they are even in a position to be an attribution, are being destroyed by poverty, crime and violence," Pastor Ricky Floyd with the Pursuit of God Transformation Center said.
The event was attended by politicians, city employees and members of the clergy.