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207- Soul City

2016-04-05 | 🔗

In the late 1960s, a civil rights leader named Floyd B. McKissick, at one time the head of CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality) proposed an idea for a new town.  He would call this town Soul City and it would be … Continue reading →

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars. In the nineteen sixties, american cities, where in crisis infrastructure was Chrome, Traffic and pollution were terrible. Crime was cities. Particularly nice places to live weight people were able to flee urban centres for the suburbs, thanks to federal help of mortgages and new freeway development. That price ass would come to be known as white flight Meanwhile, black populations in cities or dealing with housing, discrimination and police brutality riots, breaking out in cities all over the country, and this awful time was referred to by scholars as the urban crisis better Katy Makeup and the civil rights movement was happening in parallel to the urban crisis, but it wasn't really addressing the problems for black people in cities. The over arching question: Wise
Can the city's be saved? Can we make urban life better for people for all our people, that's Roger Byles, professor of history, at Illinois, State University, and you know that there were some folks who look. The situation in just threw up their hands and said you now we just we just can't salvage, what's here the answer is starting over again. In other words, urban planners thought. Maybe the problems facing cities were too big and too complicated to fix within this context of the urban crisis and the civil rights movement that the federal government,
come to consider an idea, like soul city. Why? Because it offered an idea today, a new city to be built in the country or North Carolina too, because soul, city and populated mainly are entirely by negroes. He says, would move from the gallows This tape is from a nineteen sixty nine NBC National NEWS broadcasts, and this new city was being proposed by a civil rights leader named Floyd, Mckendrick laboratory or lose your North Carolina will create new jobs. A new career for black people as a response to the urban crisis. The federal had announced plans to provide financing to about a dozen brand new towns in full, the Classic one in Seoul City to be one of the elder knockdown persons will be able to control their own destiny. We
have the power to actually be a part of the building. A town commands a store of America to be a part of it. Jane Ball room. She was working as a secretary from a classic in Harlem when he first started developing the idea for sole city, which would be a place built for and by black people. A land of black opportunity in Rural North Carolina, Jane, says going. The sole city was like being a pilgrim we had our own Mayflower ship. We came down cars, you know saved up one thing, but you know maybe, as I've Jones, I really hurt the pill. His did. Have it really hard but wouldn't be easy either? The government would eventually come to support this project, but there would be politics and compromises and very strange bedfellows and that all before breaking ground on a city when, for me, first pitch the idea of an all black town. There was one question he got asked a lot,
No, the believe a city like this form, part of a trend towards separatism. This is rapporteur, at an early press conference in a lot of people, were curious about this with soul city. A departure from the idea that black people and white people should integrate together in society was this. Instead, black people starting their own thing, separate from white people and here and kissing struggle to answer. Now I get your dick. It does the same day as the Chinese them down in New York. They built their chinese area, Chinatown beautiful section of the city, the MAR under then all the ways that this question about separatism was relevant. You have done stand a bit about who Floyd MC was restored, here would show my father left here, hand in hand with doktor king. This is Floyd mechanic. The second
he's a lawyer and a state senator- and he showing me pictures of his dad that are hanging in his office and Durham North Carolina rhythm raymond- we want to shoot him or doktor. King gave his. I had a dream speech father and daughter came led Denmark that data they d a few years after that March, Floyd mechanic Senior would become the executive director of an organization called core. That's the car based on racial equality, and he was part of it full of really important civil rights leaders in the sixties, along with people like doktor way Wilkinson in a blaze, cp Whitney under the urban League and stop the car maximum of snake Snick in these student nonviolent coordinating committee, because of these leaders and members of their organizations huge, legal gains were made in civil rights and integration in the fifties and sixtys and then in
one sixty six, there's this kind of pivotal moment in the movement. Civil Rights activist named James Meredith, a shot by a white gunmen while leaving a march in Mississippi still because Michael Unemployed Melchizedek, both go down and Mississippi to continue the March car I got is arrested and when he gets out of jail. He makes a speech where he says: don't be afraid. Dont be if we want our we'd. Madam president, we ban the federal government, that's always enjoy bag and baggage that we stand by on that day, in nineteen sixty six, the Power movement was born and mechanic core and car MIKE snake become two of the most vocal advocates of this new movement, or do we
a black power when we need it now. Stoning, my dad we're probably the two leaders and stipulating what that meant for car Michael and music black power was a step further than civil rights and integration. It was essentially the idea that black people should control their own communities should have proportional representation and government. Again, Don't worry car, Michael in nineteen, sixty six? After all, what every group in this guy do did we gotta take over a community where we are not people, so we can add decent jobs. So we can have these analyses now we can have these roads We can do in schools, so we can have these injustices. So The classic and car Michael, both very much believed in the idea of black power, but in the law? Sixteen, they began to diverge about how to achieve it called.
Legal and many others in the black Power Movement thought that capitalism was an inherently exploitative system. That would always leave someone at the bottom on either other hand MC. Sick began to believe that capitalism was the answer, but kissing actually associates himself, very important tendency in black power, that soon the adage adjure professor of history and african american studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champagne the tendencies talking about is one towards black capitalism. What means. Essentially, Black people should honour through their own capitals. Enterprises and it comes to sing yes, that business ownership is the path to equality, freedom just is social transformation.
The we attempted to divide economics from politics. The question becomes paramount in ninety seven, a strategy, not principle. That's MC. His egg and archival interview with political writer, Walter De Frise suddenly become right, Mary Ass, the ideological and you don't call me pragmatic, you might lose everything that you gave all those gazed at you re doing is excellent, because it believes that the time for ideas on was over. It was time for black people to claim their peace. The american pie, I would highlight in what way with what are you gonna, do to become a full fledged mark? Will lack of one leader will stay here? Actually,
Don't worry. Core Michael did go to Africa, leaving behind the black Power Movement in America. He moved to guinea, where he dedicated himself to the all african peoples. Revolutionary party and flame mechanistic did indeed stay in the states. He resigned core to start for profit company called cosmic kissing enterprises. And set its sights on building soul city. The town he hoped would as much economic opportunity for black Americans as possible We can bring the girl. You know it sector brain together, industry government in educational resources to really build a town free racism, the building a black towns, is an expression of a desire for autonomy. Mc six soul city wasn't a first for black town building in the U S. Quite a few.
Owns- were settled in the great plains between eighteen, ninety in nineteen, ten by african american sharecroppers fleeing the south, but these word intentionally planned communities with government support. Amazingly in the late nineteenth succeeds Justice MC kiss it becomes convinced that building a new town is the way to achieve black power. The government, struggling to deal with the so called urban crisis announces their programme tell finance several new cities as part of the urban growth and new communities act, The legislation was passed which share, provided a process for building, These things that historians Roger Biles again, and he says these new cities would be meticulously plan in order to avoid the problems of existing cities, we're gonna bring all of the knowledge and all the insights of urban planning to doing it right this time. The programme would be managed by the: U S: Department of Housing and urban development, also known as hut private develop,
birds could propose. Ideas died for new towns if they were approved. The new town could sell government backed bonds to investors on Wall Street and music starts talking to people with. In heard about this, all black town idea there like look, there's no way we're going to approve something, that's perceived as being separatist, so music, dials back the language he was using. Two describes all city. Give you look good. Things that he rode and see it before. He feels out actual applications right It's all about you, know, least he's talking about building ideal black communities o after he's gone through their press. Yes, didn't each is about building class guarantees that are open because he never envision a place were white people would be specifically excluded.
Did imagine a majority black town with majority black leadership, but he couldn't we We talk about it like that in politics, concessions must be made and then big one would come in the form of an important ally because it understood that to be approved to build one of these new cities. He'd need friends in high places, he first pitches. The idea to the current President Lyndon Johnson Johnson seems interested, but then he decides not to run for re election. In nineteen. Sixty eight mechanic looks at the new field of presidential candidates and asks himself is the most viable person to support the social project. That's Devon: Fergus he's a professor of african American studies at Ohio. State University opts for retirement. We are not a big promises and little action. That time has come for honest.
From the United States of America and Nixon actually supports this project. Nixon believed in black capitalism, because Nixon believed in capitalism. He believed them people own property and businesses. They had more of a stake in the country. Apart from that, the Republican party wanted to bring in black voters row the porter least he's a seventys was was a much more big tint sort of power. The way to win in a way to create a door? Republican party is back, Seen is what is known as possible its clear. How much Dixon Support Help Mc Essex Cause, since the final decision was made by an agency within hide, but in the early nineties, seventies, soul city did become one of the thirteen new towns to receive government backing and Floyd mechanic. Black power leader became a republican
and when a Nixon's, most vocal black supporters, of the thirteen new cities. Soul city was the only so called free. Standing new city mean, It wasn't being built right next to an already existing city that it can lean on for employment opportunities and infrastructure. It was being built on an old tobacco plantation about an hour away from Durham in Rural Warren County North Carolina. We were really mine is because you have to know at this place. Looked like it was a farm, it was the brain, do plantation and language, formally, fifty nine
the slaves there. That's Jean Ball grim. You heard her at the beginning of the story and Doris Terry Williams. I interviewed them together in Jaynes House, in war, in county in nineteen. Seventy Jane packed up her family and left her crowded housing project in New York for the wide open farmlands of North Carolina for me, criminality, awkward and landed with faith when and got to warn county? There were just a handful of other new settlers living and trailers. These We planners had developed a thirty year strategy for sole city that laid out everything, including their plan for three residential villages with mixed income housing. For me, The second actually got a degree in urban planning to help his dad design, soul city. The design was inspired by the planned community of Colombia Maryland, which was meant to have racial diversity, and a small town feel Saul city had occurred thirty six hundred acres of land, they hope to have.
Population of about two thousand people by nineteen. Seventy eight and by the thirty years they wanted to be up to around forty thousand people. Jane said early days at soul, city just felt full of potential growing up in America evenly New York. You knew you had limitations because you were niggro you, have to understand that I understand that you can't my point and then you here you get all this. It's it's a miracle it is to me, was just an amazing time to be young, gifted in black for me Is it continued to support the Republican Party and he spent some time travelling in campaigning for Nixon when he ran for his second term as president, but more The Kazakhs time was spent at soul city. Where are you Here he was
in the middle of the community. He was never art or above I didn't have his education have stature, but he was here is my brother. Because it can decided on more in county because he grown up and North Carolina. So he knew the state, but also be as black residence had left the south in droves during the great migration to cities of the north He wanted to give urban blacks a place in the south to return to if they want it again. People who are already there a reason, stay in order. Create jobs, mechanics hope was to attract industry. He wanted a big company like General Motors to come down and build a factory. But before that It happened, soul, city needed basic infrastructure like water and electric soul. City built in electrical grid and partnered, with a few other counties to build a huge regional water system from a nearby lake attained before in seventy six. There is growth.
Wake up in the morning at here bulldozers outside I see the trucks coming in them read my putting down concrete sought is every day smell that was so fantastic from any They build a house clinic called health comb and public swimming pool, both of which brought people. From all over the counting the roads of the rules of the road we have. The infrastructure built, a huge sixty thousand Square Foot industrial building, divided into separate sections with loading docks, called soul. Tech one year felt tat solitary one completed in nineteen, seventy five is designed by architect Harvey Gatt and meant to me an incubator where new industry could get started and then move to bigger facilities. If need be, spite there be moments where it felt like real growth was happening. So city was not getting its targets. But the mid nineteen seventeen, the population with fewer than two hundred people, a few small me
factors set up in the soul, tat building, but no one that could offer a substantial number of jobs without an of residence. It was hard to attract industry and without the history. It was hard to attract new residents, there was the problem of the name and the name so city. I am in favour of people You said you should change the name of the pact and now you know Floyd just refused to do that. To you We have to resolve my felt birth every time perceived. The name is being black dry so city was not an all black town. In fact, carry who played an important role in the leadership was white and some of the residents were white, but it could be. Were really escaped the perception of being an all black town. And in some ways it never really wanted to come in here
over the years. He said. Oh yeah, wives, at all black I've gotten just after all, I have to say now Y know It was a multiracial community, always was by dog on it. After all the years we ve been through what we ve been through. Welcome my my history. Why not Apart from Saul cities, identity issues, mechanics ally in the White House, President Nixon had resigned and disgrace, and the economy within a slump. On top of that, the Raleigh newsroom server launched and exposing on sorcery seventeen negative articles over eight days, accusing sorcery of all kinds of wrong doing political payer. Cronyism, nepotism and financial misappropriation, and then with this, expos ay, as rationale came, Carolinas Senator Jesse homes ready to battle with soul, city, here's Floyd Murkison the second again, films launch attacks again subsidy, that We brought development to a home.
During his long tenure as a republican senator in North Carolina Jesse Helms gain the reputation of being a so secret racist, and he like the sole city project from the beginning, remember because it can homes when the same political party still Helms, determined to destroy because city homes, order to fiscal audit, ansal city and hug froze funding until the audit was over. They never found any wrongdoing. On it, gave us a clean bill of health, damage us significantly in terms of public perceptions it's true. Most of the charges levelled against soul city by homes or the rally news and observer were not substantiated during the audit, but the bad press had further scared away industry and investors. Growth in the city was at a standstill and, after a certain point, again historian Roger Biles by,
checkers and anne- had simply withdrew to the position that, while we're not going to advance loans, were not going to invest in this any more until we decent growth and mechanics. Come Likewise. Well, you know we reached a point where the growth isn't gonna common us, we have more investment, This business didn't come that visiting them. Things were now looking rate, but in my mind, being the optimist I admissible, but it's gonna happen. Assessment will be ok. Ten years ago for mercosur of civil rights activist set out to build a city for blacks, wicker success that in thirty years it would be home to forty six thousand people. Today. Soul city is a broken dream and the government has begun foreclosure action to seize the property. The nineteen seventy nine had announced that they would no longer support soul city without the government support because it was forced into foreclosure.
So the lad, that's all city were sold off, but if the third team towns developed as part of the urban growth and new communities act the city. Wasn't the only one to fail? Only one of them actually throng, and that was a place called. The woodlands which is just north of Houston do Finland's was more generously subsidized from the beginning and had the benefit of being on the outskirts of Houston Texas. During an oil boom, the other twelve towns all failed, meaning people might still live there, but they did not continue. Seventy some had suburbs or neighbourhoods of bigger towns. Some remained Poor braided most of the failed towns I did a lack of investment as the primary reason for failure, but souls we faced additional hurdles for one They were the only stand alone town, so they were truly starting from nothing in any event, a strong dose of racism,
That might be the way you laugh when you actually want to scream. In any case, it's not. Hard to imagine that racism played a role in sore cities demise. There was the end instigation by Jesse HOMES, the negative press and the government Flay Junior says was always looking over their shoulder. We will always under a special level scrutiny in a special level of review. To make the right turn at the yellow sign down there. That was the main entrance to soul city I'm driving around with doors, Terry Williams, in what was once soul city. It's now an onion. That part of the way county This was surprised here was built as the beginning of a kind of a commercial ways. There were several little businesses
It still feels like a really rural area, there's a pond and some woods a few clusters of houses. Some of the buildings are abandoned, like the health clinic and this building here on your left. This was health, CO, health, co and then get to a new building, a big one, one that was after the sole city project failed and this is the prison in nineteen. Thirty, three, the worn county correctional facility was built. It's a high security prison designed to house about eight hundred mhz and next door to the present. Then the building that used to be so tat. One is now, correction enterprises so take one member- was the building designed to incubate new industry and sole city at correction enterprises. Prison laborers, make janitorial products like soap.
About three dollars a day. All of this on the former slave plantation that Floyd MC has tried to transform into a place for black people to succeed, it's not hard to see the tragic irony in this package genes. I ask her indoors how they felt when the prison came. I lost my breaking my own, the guy's, a broad industry here industry, instead of their instead of there, was a man blacker there, It happens all over. You know, Rural America technically low in common and and communities of color, but the promise that is and bring jobs. It is an insult is an insult. The flights memory is an insult to all the things that he was trying to do here. Floyd MC sick, passed away in nineteen. Ninety one but he didn't live to see this final insult to his city. Before you
died. He served as a judge in North Carolina and as a pastor at the first Baptist Church of Soul City. He found a way to continue the struggle but soul city was a hard defeat to get over. This was his architecture this with his vision. This is found in had this was his. This was that it is, and it is his legacy em you can you imagine, and I tell you I saw a difference in him. He was just different man, you know some who had been shaken away. He wouldn't tell you, but something has been shaken way. It's funny Somehow I never heard of Milosevic I'd heard of a lot of his contemporaries and civil rights mortally the king Jr, of course, Roy Wilkins and Whitney young at also heard of a lot of his peers in the black power movement. People ex dopey core Michael Assad us occur to renew any Angela Davis, but not music lesions,
Your scholars, who do we call black power studies, they ve, the study and write about the organisations and individuals whom they see as heroic professor soon the other judge were again Mchugh sick supports which you damn Nixon, enjoys the Republican Party Mackenzie. Isn't seen as heroic, but that doesn't mean he's not important, so I think that, even though, because it was not a conservative Republican, still less appealing character to scholars who are interested in the more radical ideals generally associated with black power, so they get, written how did the history Mckissock is fairly well known and loved and North Carolina and DORA says soul. City has had far reaching impacts on the state because think about the people who came through so city who ve gone on to do just that
The thing was talking to Abdul Rashid, their day, soon ignores and Jane go on to list several people who are influenced by Marchesa Console city and went on. Dart social programmes in the area or even be elected to public office, even create Oliver Folk who came through in people. Still live on the land that was so city can use of the water and electrical systems that were built as part of the project drive on those roads. Live in those houses. Jane Ballroom, still owns her home in Seoul City and he said to me. This is a dream. Was you know ownership of one seven prying went up, to me, I realise the great and my own, a little capacity and Scholars are arriving mechanistic out of history because they don't see him as a hero
There certainly not going to convince Doris Terry Williams or Jane Ballroom. I may remember walking around with that. Had we had, if cavalry had or whatever you call the beautiful hat he was, is what another gangrene Uk Look Hemison has outlined. He cared about people? You ve really cared about people, he was. He was just he wasn't perfect, but he was magnets. Yeah No,
me ninety. Nine percent investment has produced this week by Katy mingle with two anyhow, every government Kirkwall statuary few selfsame Greenspan an me Roman Mars, special thanks to Megan. Read the archival tape you heard of food because it came from the southern oral history programme collection at the University of North Carolina chapel hill- we are, directive. Ninety one point: seven k a elder abuse San Francisco and produced the offices of arcs an architect
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.