King Searches for Community

Junior Chrishton King took a historical look at the Orange Mound neighborhood in a chapel presentation to examine the question, “Is the sense of community still there?”

King described Orange Mound as “the epitome of black achievement” after the subdivision was created in the 1890s.
“Built on the Deaderick Plantation, Orange Mound was the first neighborhood built by black people, for black people, and it was home to the region’s black middle class.”

He detailed how the influx of drugs and redlining – including discriminatory lending practices – were contributing factors in the downturn of this landmark neighborhood in recent decades. “Without the infusion of capital from the black middle class, Orange Mound lost the ability to sustain itself and fell into disrepair.”

In his research King visited the community and spoke with Dr. Edward Golden, his grandfather and a native Memphian; LeAndre Gibson of the Greater Whitehaven Redevelopment Project; and Raymond Edwards, director of the Orange Mound Community and Senior Center.

King said he detected a sense of renewal among community organizations and at the Cxffeeblack coffee shop, where he encountered neighbors sitting outside rapping.

“People from the surrounding neighborhood would come up, greet everyone. It was the first time in this entire research process that I felt I had found that sense of togetherness that I thought had been lost.”

King finished his presentation with a call to action, urging his classmates when driving through Orange Mound, or Fraser, or Whitehaven to “take a moment and appreciate where you are, a neighborhood that despite facing its adversities will never fully lose that sense of community that has been there since the very beginning.”