In Spite Of Hardship, This Black Mecca Still Thrives Today

Basketball hoop at Orange Mound Park
Leslie Taylor-Grover
August 11, 2020

In 1862, Memphis, TN was in chaos. The Union Army had captured the city, and our people fled plantations to fight for freedom. The Black population of Memphis swelled, and the city erupted in war, racism, and anti-Black violence.

Something incredible happened, though, too.

While some of us fled the city to escape white terrorism, many stayed. When an opportunity came up to purchase our own land and create our own community where we could thrive away from white terrorism, we jumped on it!

These land purchases were the beginnings of Orange Mound.

In Orange Mound our people had complete economic control! We built churches, schools, businesses, and homes. Orange Mound quickly became a Black status symbol as droves of successful teachers, lawyers, and doctors called it home. Its churches were also major players during the Civil Rights movement.

But then came hardship.

Like many other Black communities, the larger city refused to invest in Orange Mound. It was also hit hard by drugs, and by the 1980s it was struggling. But the town never gave up on itself and on its people. And what happened next shows just how important that is.

After years of community revitalization, Orange Mound continues to thrive and serve as a Black cultural hub today! Our unity is our strength. We must always work together to build and keep our communities alive!

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