MEMPHIS, TN--(Marketwired - Jan 5, 2015) - A C Wharton, Jr., the mayor of the City of Memphis, and a celebrated social justice reformer, headlines Waller's fifth annual tribute to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the National Civil Rights Museum on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

The luncheon and program, held by nationally renowned law firm Waller, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, takes place at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The theme of this year's tribute is "It's Our Turn," commemorating the inspirational life and legacy of Dr. King.

"We take time each year to celebrate Dr. King's life and to find inspiration as we make our own individual and collective efforts to carry on his legacy and be the change we want to see in our community and the world," said Matt Burnstein, chairman of Waller. "Mayor Wharton is an eloquent and inspirational leader, lawyer and community advocate, and we look forward to coming together to share his perspective and ideas during an important time of increased dialogue in this country."

Mayor Wharton, now in his second term as the leader of Tennessee's largest city, previously served as Shelby County's first-ever elected African-American mayor, a post he held from 2002-2009.

Well-known for his intense commitment to social reform, three decades ago he wrote and saw passed one of the country's first state laws aimed at combating domestic violence. Mayor Wharton's passion for change in the criminal justice system's treatment of the mentally ill led to the nationally renowned Jericho Project, an alternative to jail for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse who have been arrested and charged with a crime. He also previously served as Shelby County's Chief Public Defender and Executive Director of the Memphis Area Legal Services, a nonprofit organization providing civil legal assistance to low-income individuals.

In 2009 Mayor Wharton was elected by a 61% margin of victory against numerous challengers to become Memphis' first new Mayor in 18 years. In 2011, with a $4.8 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mayor Wharton helped implement Memphis Gun Down, a data-driven, results-oriented program to address some of Memphis' most pressing challenges. The program has worked to mobilize police more effectively, change the community's culture of criminal acceptance, organize jobs training and craft stronger policies. As a result, the neighborhoods of South Memphis and Frayser have seen 50% and 22% decreases, respectively, in robberies, non-domestic violence aggravated assaults, and homicides since 2012. Throughout his tenure as Mayor, Mayor Wharton has focused specifically on new initiatives that dramatically increase jobs and capital investments, reduce crime, improve government efficiency and transparency, add more parks and green space to the core city, and improve public education for all children.

Mayor Wharton received his law degree in 1971, graduating with honors from the University of Mississippi Law School, where he was one of the first African-American students to serve on the Moot Court Board and the first to serve on the Judicial Council. He later became the University's first African-American professor of law, where he taught for 25 years. He also holds a political science degree from Tennessee State University.

About The National Civil Rights Museum
Noted as one of the nation's premier heritage and cultural museums, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., is steadfast in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally. Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

About Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP
With approximately 200 attorneys in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and Austin, Tex., Waller helps clients navigate a diverse range of complex transactional, regulatory and litigation issues in the healthcare, financial services, retail and hospitality industries. For more information, please visit

About the Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry. The Southeast Regional office is based in Atlanta and covers Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina.

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Justin Wilson