Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A New South and a New City: Negotiating Race, Constructing Region, and Building Soul City, North Carolina, 1969-1980
Betsy Beasley, Ph.D. Student in American Studies, Yale University
Location is wheelchair accessible
In 1969, Floyd McKissick, a former president of the Congress of Racial Equality and a long-time civil rights leader, purchased a 2000-acre former plantation in Warren County, North Carolina, with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. On this site, McKissick proposed to build a rigorously planned new town—called Soul City—geared toward promoting black political empowerment and economic enterprise. Soul City’s developers hoped to bring both blue- and white-collar employment to the depressed economy of the county, replacing the farming jobs that were quickly disappearing and decreasing out-migration by offering the county’s majority-black population the chance to train for new kinds of work. At the same time, McKissick sought to carve a new kind of place into the rural Southern landscape, a haven for black Northerners who wished to move back South. This paper interrogates McKissick’s attempts to tackle some of the nation’s headiest postwar problems and asks what we might learn by considering urban crisis, rural decline, and black inequality simultaneously. This lecture is part of the GLC
Brown Bag Lunch Series. Bring your lunch and we’ll provide the drinks & dessert.