Floyd McKissick and Soul City
On November 9, 1973, civil rights activist Floyd McKissick broke ground on Soul City in rural Warren County.
The Soul City project sought to improve the economic prospects of underprivileged African Americans by providing them with affordable housing and creating an alternative to urban slums. Warren County was chosen for the project because it was one of the poorest areas in the state.
McKissick, the driving force behind the project, was the first African American man to go to law school at the University of North Carolina and thought that economic power was the first step to political freedom. The project received several million dollars in support from the state and federal government, as well as from private donors.
The first facility constructed at Soul City was an impressive water system and factory named SoulTech I. However the project was largely derailed by a 1975 exposé in the News & Observer that charged McKissick with corruption. Even though the accusations were found to be false, the controversy that surrounded the article led the project to be audited and caused it lose support from the business community.
The project fell into a slump and effectively ended when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew its support in 1979.
Other related resources:
- Celebrate Black History! from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
- A Change is Gonna Come, an online exhbit from the N.C. Museum of History
- A History of African Americans in North Carolina from N.C. Historical Publications
- Resources related to black history from the State Library
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