Republican David Lenoir and Democrat Lee Harris took questions at the National Civil Rights Museum.
Lenoir originally withdrew from the event when former Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas was selected as moderator. He accused of her of wanting to turn the forum into a racial agenda.
Thomas withdrew and a reporter with the Tri-State Defender took over as moderator.
Crime, education and diversity were all addressed.
Lenoir: "The best crime prevention tool is job creation. The most dangerous person in the whole world is a person with no hope. Long term hopelessness is tied to long term unemployment. If we can get education right, and we have to get education right ... We can address the economic opportunities that exist within our community. I have said many times and i'll say it again we have to look at crime through the lens of education and economic development."
Harris: "Right now we have more than 20,000 students who are taking career and job skills classes, but very few of them, fewer than 200, are actually graduating with a job certificate. So think of that, on the one hand almost all of our kids graduate from high school not college ready and the other side is, they are not getting the job skills they need to get a job."
The questions for the forum were chosen by the NAACP.