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Revitalizing Black Neighborhoods by Preserving Their History


Jevonte Porter grew up hearing family stories about a bustling era of arts and business in the Orange Mound section of Memphis. After World War II, locals flocked to performance spaces like the W.C. Handy Theater; those without tickets often sold hot dogs or other goods on the busy streets outside venues.To Mr. Porter, 25, these anecdotes almost sounded like fiction. As a child, he played hide-and-seek around abandoned buildings. Orange Mound — often cited as the first community in the United States founded and developed by African Americans — had become less the domain of street vendors and more of a food desert.Now, Mr. Porter sees signs of revitalization taking root.Leading the effort are two local artists and developers, Victoria Jones and James Dukes, who want to transform the United Equipment Building — an abandoned feed mill and one of the …

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