First Lady designates Orange Mound as 'Preserve America Community'

Updated: Nov. 16, 2016 at 4:15 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - First Lady Michelle Obama designated Orange Mound as a Preserve America Community.

The Preserve America Community program recognizes communities that use their heritage resources in sustainable ways and share the benefits of historic preservation with both residents and visitors alike.

Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen was the one that pushed for Orange Mound to be included in the program.

"I am pleased First Lady Michelle Obama designated Orange Mound as a Preserve America Community," Cohen said. "I was proud to write a letter of support to the Office of Preservation Initiatives for Orange Mound's application. The Orange Mound community will benefit greatly from this designation as its leaders and residents work to protect and celebrate their heritage while building a future that will keep the community strong and vibrant for generations to come."

You can read Cohen's letter of support here.

Orange Mound was the nation's first subdivision specifically designed for African Americans. It was founded in 1890 and gained a reputation for being a refuge for African Americans moving to Memphis from rural areas in the South.

Orange Mound fell into decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but in the 21st century the neighborhood has experienced a revival, driven in part by older residents using the neighborhood's rich heritage to encourage the next generation to take a more active role in improving and maintaining the community.

Orange Mound's 125th anniversary celebration in 2015, for example, was a tremendous success, thanks in part to the partnership between local government, nonprofits, community organizations, educational institutions and businesses.

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