Book signing will honor Sanford

Published 8:55 am Friday, March 31, 2017

Book signing will honor Sanford


MEMPHIS – Panola County native Otis Sanford will discuss and sign his new book “From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics,” Monday, April 3 at Square Books on the Square in Oxford from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Published by University of Tennessee Press, From Boss Crump to King Willie offers an in-depth look at the vital role that race played in the political evolution of Memphis, from the rise of longtime political boss and Mississippi native Edward Hull Crump to the election of Dr. Willie Herenton as the city’s first black mayor according to a news release from UT Press.
Sanford, a graduate of North Panola High School, Northwest Mississippi Junior College and the University of Mississippi, explains that African Americans in Memphis, many of whom migrated to Memphis from plantations in Mississippi, overwhelmingly supported the Crump organization because he at least listened to some of their concerns. The book probes Crump’s hot-and-cold relationship with local newspaper editors, some of whom castigated his machine politics.
Filled with vivid details on the workings of municipal politics, this accessible account explores the nearly century-long struggle by African Americans in Memphis to secure recognition and gain a viable voice in the city’s affairs the news release continues.
Charles Crawford, Professor of History at the University of Memphis said, “Otis Sanford’s From Boss Crump to King Willie provides the best understanding of this aspect of Memphis’s history and will be required reading for students, scholars, and anyone who wants a lucid, readable account of the city’s past experiences.”
The book goes on to explore the political vacuum left in the wake of Crump’s 1954 death. But then, some twenty-five years later, a well-educated native son, Dr. Willie Herenton, emerged as the leader that the black community had long hoped for. Herenton proved to be the right man at the right time to eventually make racial and political history in the city.
The book also focuses on how politicians from Crump to Herenton recognized the power of the African American vote.
The book is a culmination of four years of research and includes interviews with key figures prominent in the political evolution of Memphis, including Dr. Herenton, former Federal Prosecutor Mike Cody, former Mayor Dick Hackett, former City Councilman Fred Davis, retired Federal Judge Harry Wellford, political activist Miriam DeCosta Willis, and former Memphis Police Director Buddy Chapman.
Otis Sanford holds the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic/Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis. He also serves as the political commentator for WREG-TV in Memphis. A former managing editor and current political columnist at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he also worked for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Pittsburgh Press, and the Detroit Free Press. He was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014.

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