Soul City: A Black Utopia


A Safe haven for people of color is exactly what I need. Last week was draining, and life took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. Let's recap. First, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Next, 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant was shot and killed by an Ohio police office. Sadly, I can not list the rest of the tragic violence against people of color for that week. It's tiring.
To be clear, I am not tired of being Black; I am tired of the way America treats me for being Black. A person is never safe in a place that was designed to make sure you fail.

 


With that being said, a safe place for those who are marginalized is a freaking fantastic idea right about now. I crave a community dedicated to Black economic and social empowerment. Civil-rights leader Floyd McKissick desired this as well. In 1969 McKissick planned to develop a thriving community for minorities. It would be located in Warren County, North Carolina. This community would be known as Soul City. I could dedicate an entire article on Floyd McKissick, but today's primary focus is Soul City. Here's a great article on McKissick. 




With a 14 million dollar grant from The Department of Housing and Urban Development, McKissick secured 5,000 acres. The plot of land was originally a plantation. Soul City was projected to have 24,000 jobs and a population of 50,000 buy the 2000s. Meaning opportunities for the marginalized to work, educate and grow without interruption. Can you imagine how further along the Black and brown community would be if our story was not interrupted by genocide, greed, and treason?



Sadly, Soul City was not able to see its potential due to deliberate political opposition. Senator, Jesse Helms played a major role in the decline of the town's development. Helms, a leader of the Conservative movement, successfully bullied and convinced others not to support Soul City. Helms argued that McKissick was misappropriating funds and the Soul City was an insult to taxpayers. The town faced foreclosure. 

 



Soul City never reached its full potential. Only a few housing units and businesses were developed. It held a few residents during development; but it's now a ghost town. To add insult to injury, one of the buildings that was planned to create jobs for the community is now part of the Warren County Correctional Facility. 
Here's a pamphlet on the original plans, ideas, and goals for Soul City. NPR has a great podcast episode on the town as well. I've listened to it twice already.




I end this Museum Monday with a question. Do you think society can bring Soul City back to life?


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