Home to the original change makers of Memphis, South Memphis is where true soul thrives.
South Memphis has everything: hard-working people, world class music, and a rich cultural legacy that’s a proud part of our city. It’s defined by a history of entrepreneurs and creatives who changed this city’s trajectory forever. Musicians at Stax, academics at LeMoyne-Owen, and business owners who influenced the soul of this city. The list of South Memphians who have changed the world is long – and it’s growing every year.
South Memphis doesn’t just rest on its laurels – new initiatives and movements are being started every day to continue South Memphis’ history of innovation and growth- especially in the area surrounding Soulsville. Taking the legacy of Stax Records, the Soulsville Foundation took the abandoned former home of Stax Records and opened the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and created a new legacy of educating the children of South Memphis at the Soulsville Charter School and Stax Academy of Music. Other initiatives in the area include the Memphis Slim Collaboratory, the Memphis Black Arts Alliance, several organizations aimed at assisting residents in buying homes, community gardens, farmers markets, and more.
South Memphis is home to LeMoyne-Owen College. The HBCU is continuing its tradition as an institution that provides a quality liberal arts education to students, and has recently completed new additions to their campus. And for neighborhood staples like the legendary Four Way Restaurant, Interstate BBQ, and Stein’s, there hasn’t been a need to change a thing.
Famous People from South Memphis: Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin, Maurice White, Booker T. Jones, Frank Stokes, Young Dolph, D’Army Bailey, Maxine Smith, Harold Ford, Jr., Benjamin Hooks, G.E. Patterson
Famously known as the home of Graceland and the new Guest House at Graceland hotel, you might think there isn’t much more to learn about this part of the city, but there is way more to do and see. Whitehaven has championship athletics at Whitehaven High School, some of the best BBQ in the city at Marlowe’s, and a hidden black middle class that calls this area home. There’s a pride in being able to say you come from Whitehaven, that you’ve been eating at Hong Kong since before you could walk, and that you can remember Christmas shopping at Southland. Whitehaven is more than the former home of the Elvis the King; it’s a place where generations of Memphians come together to live remarkable lives.
Friday night football is a big deal in Memphis and people turn out in droves to see a Whitehaven game. One of four Memphis schools to win a state championship in 2016, Memphians and visitors alike have to Respect the Haven. Whitehaven High also boasts academic success, as it hosts an Academic Signing Day where they celebrate those students who have received more than a million dollars in scholarship money for college.
Designated as a “Preserve America” community by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Orange Mound is a historic place in both Memphis and the country. One of the first neighborhoods in the country developed to encourage home ownership among African Americans, Orange Mound has a strong community presence that permeates all parts of life. Neighborhood high school Melrose has dedicated alumni that has made the revitalization and continued growth of the neighborhood their number one priority, and many community members are taking charge and uplifting the Orange Mound Community. Orange Mound is defined by Friday night football, the annual Southern Heritage Classic Parade down Park Ave., and most importantly a strong sense of community.
To learn more about this neighborhood, check out the “On The Ground” series by High Ground News featuring Orange Mound.
As the oldest portion of the city, it stretches from midtown and downtown all the way to the Mississippi state line, and its Whitehaven, Riverside, Prospect Park and Dixie Heights neighborhoods harbor a diverse and extensive history.
A trip down memory lane
South Memphis has everything, from hardworking residents to a musical history that’s second to none. Indeed, the locals have altered the trajectory of the city and beyond through their entrepreneurial efforts, creativity and business acumen—to the point that naming all South Memphians who have changed the world would rapidly become an unwieldy task. Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin, Maxine Smith, Benjamin Hooks… the list goes on.
That said, the area is by no means resting on the laurels of its rich history. In contrast, innovation and growth are two defining features of South Memphis, so you can expect to see new projects, movements and activities popping up all over the area.
Attractions and fun things to do
No matter your personal preferences, you’re bound to find a bevy of exciting activities in South Memphis.
For lovers of the outdoors, look no further than T.O. Fuller State Park’s 1138 acres of pure bliss. Its sheltered picnic areas, swimming pools, basketball courts and wide-open spaces provide a perfect backdrop for outdoor activities in South Memphis.
If you find it tough to choose between rock-climbing and rock ‘n’ roll, head to Memphis Rox, a massive rock-climbing center located in Soulsville. This state-of-the-art facility is located directly opposite the STAX Museum of American Soul Music.
Feed your brain—and your soul
South Memphis houses LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically black liberal arts institution that has produced some of the finest leaders, artists, educationalists and scientists in Memphis and beyond.
If you’re seeking brain food, you’re in luck: the Four Way, Steins and Interstate Barbeque are all nestled within this Memphis neighborhood alongside the legendary Marlowe’s Ribs, which is known for its award-winning BBQ and Elvis memorabilia. Other dining options include D’Bo’s Wings N’ More and Exlines’ Pizza.