‘We don’t need saviors’: Orange Mound community celebrates Juneteenth, future of neighborhood


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two local organizations are working to transform what some may deem as an eyesore in Orange Mound into what they want they see as a beacon of hope.

In order to kick-off the project, they hosted a Juneteenth Celebration right on the property on Saturday. Usually the property is empty but now it’s buzzing with life in honor of Juneteenth.

The new owners of the property said they want to keep the buzz going with hopes to revitalize this historic part of town.

“There are so many opportunities if we just create convening space for Black folks to come and build each other up. We don’t need saviors. We just need opportunities to save ourselves,” said Victoria Jones, the Executive Director of Tone.

And these two entrepreneurs said those opportunities start at the former United Equipment building on Lamar Avenue.

The building had been vacant for decades.

However, the property is now filled with celebration, not just for Juneteenth but for its now bright future.

Victoria Jones is the Executive Director of Tone, which is an organization dedicated to helping propel black artists, and James Dukes, also known as IMAKEMADEBEATS, is the CEO and FOUNDER of the record label Unapologetic.

The two came together nearly three years ago looking for more space for their organization’s future projects.

“As a Black man who grew up in the Mound, there are a lot of open doors that say they’re for everyone but that doesn’t mean that I feel like it’s available for me,” said Dukes.

Jones and Dukes said while looking for properties, they came across 2205 Lamar Avenue.

Through the Kataly Foundation’s Restorative Economies Fund based in California and an anonymous local donor who agreed to match the grant, Jones said they were able to purchase the property for $400,000.

Jones and Dukes said their goal is to turn the property into a mixed-use development for current and even aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs looking to invest in the Orange Mound community.

Whether it’s a residential or commercial space, both said the possibilities are endless.

“All people got to do is feel like there’s something here for them,” said Dukes.

Jones added, “We are the distribution capitol. We’re ready to bring in Nike, Fedex. We’re ready to put stuff out there. So, what does it mean for us to turn this into a hub for black innovation so we can start distributing black culture, black talent, and black brilliance.”‘

Both Dukes and Jones said they do not have a current timeline on when they plan to break ground here.

However, they are currently taking business proposals from anyone looking to get involved.

For more information on that, click here.

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