Former Atlanta Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, U.S. Congressman John Lewis and a host of other dignitaries will join members of the Atlanta City Council and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs to dedicate Oakland City Park in honor of the late Rev. James Edward Orange at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 29.
Located at 1305 Oakland Dr. S.W., the 15-acre park will be renamed “The Rev. James Orange Park at Oakland City,” to serve as a perpetual tribute to his personal and unyielding commitment to social justice for all.
Rev. James Edward Orange was a close confident and aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He died in February 2008 at the age of 65.
Rev. James Orange was a longtime civil rights leader whose 1965 activism in Selma and Perry Co., Ala. ultimately led to the famed Selma-to-Montgomery march and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
James E. Orange had joined the civil rights marches led by Dr. King and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy in Atlanta in 1963. Soon after, he became a project coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, bringing young people into the movement.
Rev. Orange was organizing a voter registration drive in southwest Alabama in early 1965 when he was arrested in Perry County on charges of disorderly conduct and contributing to the delinquency of minors.
A native of Birmingham, Rev. Orange resided in southwest Atlanta for four decades while fighting the good fight for equality and social justice. He was hired by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to mobilize young people for the civil rights movement in the early 1960s and soon became a top aide to Dr. King.
“During his life he was detained more than 100 times during acts of civil disobedience and fought for the least of these and for those who needed a voice. Yet as racial barriers began to fall, Rev. James Orange remained unyielding. For him there was no turning back,” said Atlanta City Councilmember Cleta Winslow, who represents the historic Oakland City community.
Rev. Orange worked for and with a number of national and international civil rights organizations and labor unions throughout his career including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. He also worked with César Chávez in organizing the United Farm Workers. In 2003, he helped organize the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, a caravan of 18 buses that crossed the country in support of legal status for illegal immigrants.