Giving truth to Memphis youth
by Courtney Cox (Central High School)
Emmanuel Amido knew what he was up against when he decided to make a documentary on the Orange Mound Community. Originally from South Sudan, the Central High alumnae found himself wanting to do something different with his life.
Talking to The Teen Appeal, Amido said “There are so many misconceptions about Orange Mound”. Originally the film was meant to be about the crime there, but changed direction when he entered the community.
The film opens with the Melrose High School Choir singing and a voiceover of numerous Orange Mound residents talking positively about the community. “It’s the people, it’s a brand,” former National Civil Rights Museum director Beverly Robertson said, “…it’s a dag-gone special place.” Orange Mound was the first community by African Americans for African Americans, one of the residents said.
Amido said it was hard to first get people to talk to him. “They thought I had a gun when I pulled out my camera and they would run!”
Eventually, Amido found somebody who was willing to talk to him. “If you’re good at something and put your heart into it, do well and people will respond,” he said.
Orange Mound was booming in the 30s, 40s, and 50s before the Civil Rights movement. The community had everything it needed in the Mound, from doctors, dentists, to pharmacists, but as time went on, the once-booming community began to face some difficult challenges.
After the Civil Rights movement, many of the people in the community left to pursue higher education and find better homes. Those who couldn’t leave and pursued their dreams stayed to pick up the pieces. Over time, the reputation of the vibrant Orange Mound began to crumble, and as drugs became an inescapable issue, along with low incomes, along came crime.
Despite these issues, the locals in the film were passionate about their neighborhood; they weren’t focused on the negative. They focused on the forgotten side. The members of the Orange Mound community supported Amido with his ambitions when the film debuted at Indie Memphis Film festival last November. The film brought a positive outlook on a place that was once known for its violence and gangs.
Orange Mound was once historical and will forever hold some piece of that regardless of the events that have occurred. Amido rose above the more obvious message of filming a crime-filled neighborhood and developed it into something more positive.
“If you’re good at something put your heart into it, do well and people will respond,” Amido said.