Students lead 'This is Orange Mound' heritage tour

Students lead 'This is Orange Mound' heritage tour
Melrose High School (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Melrose High School (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - If you've ever wondered about the history behind one of Memphis oldest neighborhoods, the Blues City Cultural Center (BCCC) can help you.

"This Is Orange Mound" is a youth-guided tour of one of the first planned subdivisions in America for African-Americans. The tour launched Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., and included ten sites deemed important to the cultural heritage and history of Orange Mound.

One of the tour's first stops was at historic Melrose High School. One of the people leading the tour was student Terrica Jones. But before she could lead the tour, community elders had to first teach her about her the neighborhood.

"I wanted to learn a lot of information about the history of Orange Mound that I did not know," Jones said.

It's history that included learning about the ties between sports and society. It also meant learning about the famous students who used to walked the halls of Melrose High School. This included Olympic gold and silver medal track star Rochelle Stevens.

The tour concluded back where it started at the Orange Mound Gallery. Through art, people gained a deeper understanding of the more than 125 year history of Orange Mound.

"I would love for them to learn about how the arts can actually be a tool to change and revitalize their neighborhood," Linda Steele with Arts Memphis said.

Other sites visited on the tour included Mt. Pisgah CME Church, the Deaderick Family Cemetery, and the Orange Mound Swimming Pool.

Several sites feature area youth presenting live dramatized interpretations that add voice to the sites' significance.

The neighborhood historian and president of the Melrose Center for Cultural Enrichment, Mary Mitchell, believes the tour "is a tribute to generations of African-Americans who built a great community that has endured more than 125 years."

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