"I'm going back to City Hall," Herenton, a LeMoyne-Owen College graduate, said during a speech at the South Memphis institution. "Let's do it again."
Herenton, who turns 78 this year, described himself as an "activist" and said he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. twice. Fifty years later, he said the same issues like poverty continue to plague the city.
"Dr. King's agenda is unfinished. My agenda, when I was mayor, is unfinished," he said.
And while he said he didn't want to disparage Mayor Jim Strickland's current administration, he said he thought the city's issues were "over their heads."
Ursula Madden, Strickland's communications chief, said in response: "We don't have anything to say, other than we're proud of our record these first two years and eager for the work ahead."
Herenton, first elected in 1991, served five terms before resigning in 2009 for an unsuccessful run at a U.S. House seat. He described himself as not fully committed to that campaign and called it a protest.
Since then, the former Memphis City Schools superintendent has focused on opening his DuBois Consortium Charter Schools. But he says that, as mayor, he could do more to influence education in Memphis.