The Soul City experiment: A conversation with the author who wrote the book and a North Carolina leader who lived it firsthand
In 1969, with America’s cities in turmoil and racial tensions high, civil rights leader Floyd McKissick announced an audacious plan: he would build a new city in rural North Carolina, open to all but intended primarily to benefit Black people. Named Soul City, the community secured funding from the Nixon administration, planning help from Harvard and the University of North Carolina, and endorsements from the New York Times and the Today show. Before long, the brand-new settlement – built on a former slave plantation – had roads, houses, a health care center, and an industrial plant. By the year 2000, projections said, Soul City would have 50,000 residents.
Unfortunately, as Seton Hall law professor Thomas Healy explains in his new book Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia, the utopian vision was not to be.
Join us as we explore this remarkable story with Prof. Healy and an important North Carolina leader who lived through (and was shaped by) the Soul City experiment – state Utilities Commissioner and former state Senator, Floyd McKissick, Jr.
Professor Thomas Healy researches, writes and teaches in the fields of constitutional law, freedom of speech, legal history, civil rights, and federal courts at Seton Hall University Law School in Newark, New Jersey. His book “The Great Dissent” won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a native or North Carolina. Before attending law school, Healy worked as a reporter for both Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Baltimore Sun.
Floyd McKissick, Jr. serves as a North Carolina Utilities Commissioner in a term that runs through June, 2025. McKissick is a veteran attorney who left private practice at the time of his appointment by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2019. He previously represented Durham County in the North Carolina Senate from 2007 to 2019, where he served as the Senior Deputy Democratic Leader. He is the son of the late civil rights activist and attorney, Floyd B. McKissick.
Don’t miss this very special – event.
When: Thursday April 29 at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Online; pre-register from the comfort of your home, and remember to social distance!
Suggested contribution: $10 (click here to support NC Policy Watch)
Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or [email protected]