How $100 and a Dream Turned This Southern City Into A Historical Beacon

painting of people holding signs at a protest
Alyssa Guzik
February 8, 2024

They had just returned from a war where they fought for their "freedom." Not too far east of the Mississippi River in Tennessee was plantation land. White controlled and clearly not meant to be owned by Black folks, this land became a city that made history.

Named after the Osage trees that had once covered the area, Orange Mound, Tennessee, was a haven for Black people after the Civil War. The city, founded in 1890, rose from the ashes of oppression, and emerged as a symbol of hope and progress.

Despite relentless bigotry and systemic discrimination everywhere else in the nation, Orange Mound's founders remained resolute. They nurtured a strong sense of unity and empowerment that still permeates every corner of their city.

That community spirit is evident in the city’s revitalization efforts. Buildings once abandoned and filled with nothing but shadows are now reborn as affordable housing, art centers, historical landmarks, and small Black businesses.

So much of our liberation hinges on breaking free from oppressive systems and the community we build together. Orange Mound, Tennessee does exactly this. The city is not only a testament against injustice but also an embodiment of the strength of unified Black communities.

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