Dr. Willie Herenton hopes to mobilize 10,000 African-American men to mentor young black males

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When it comes to murder and violence in Memphis, former Mayor and City Schools Superintendent Dr. Willie Herenton, known for not holding back his punches, has a reality check for the black community and his critics.

"It is clearly a black problem. My critics will says it's a community wide problem. I know that. The reason I'm focusing on the accountability for black people is because it's our family. We are suffering from a deterioration of the black family," Dr. Herenton said.

As he announced at Mayor Jim Strickland's New Year's Day Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Herenton is issuing a call to action to churches called Gideon 300.

"The Gideon 300 will be part of the New Path Movement which will bring to bare a united front of churches, ministers."

His New Path organization is seeking 10,000 black men to volunteer and mentor young black males in Memphis.

"We will amass 10,000 black men who are volunteers that mentor and go into neighborhoods to build relationships with fatherless boys, and to promote after school activities, and shape black boys into becoming honorable black men."

Critical of policies of Shelby County Juvenile Court, the District Attorney's Office and the Crime Commission, Herenton said mass incarceration is not the answer.

"We are going to partner with mental health institutions, education. We are going to build a new juvenile facility so those boys will have a boot camp atmosphere."

It's a different approach from a former mayor and educator.

"What we've got to interrupt is this whole arena of a lot of black people making excuses for our condition."

All of this as he hopes the black community will take a close look at itself.

"What I'm simply saying is no one can save us from us but us. This our problem and our challenge."

Dr. Herenton hopes to unveil more details about his plan in two weeks.

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