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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Soul City's goals

McKissick describes the goal of Soul City, to "let America see that there is a solution to many of the problems that we have." If city leaders can solve infrastructure challenges, they will create a community rich in leadership.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DEVRIES:
In your own context, though, it makes it pretty damn important that Soul City succeed as a town.
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
Oh, absolutely.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Just as a town concept, forgetting about the black aspect of it.
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
That's right. Forgetting about the black aspect of it. If it succeeded as an all black town, it would be defeating my objectives. Because I believe that the force of the new town concept is a strong socio-political-economic force that deals with every rangeable problem that we have in American society. We can focus it on one and we can bring together, you know, the private sector and we can bring together industry, government and educational resources to really build the town free of racisim. I'm still an integrationist. I've often said that I was a cultural nationalist, when I say a cultural black nationalist, I accept what I am and I'm pround of what I am. My ancestry is Africa and you know, all that. But, I'm an American and I don't want to be anything else but that.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Where do you stand right now? Do you think this new town concept is going to succeed?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
Yeah.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What will the impact be on, say, the rest of this state and the South? Forget about the nation for a moment? Where do you see that going?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
I can't give you a clear cut answer, but its total impact is going to be to let America see that there is a solution to many of the problems that we have. It will also let the state know that the state has participated and supported this project. I doubt that other states could have gotten the support that this project has gotten from the state of North Carolina. The state of North Carolina will benefit economically by having a project like this. A project like this appeals to the self interest of people. It opens thousands of opportunities, not just full employment, but upward mobility of employment to agree with the psychological man and his ego, to a great extent. Rather than throwing people together in a highly competitive society where there are only four or five leadership roles, Soul City opens up thousands of leadership roles, as compared to that. I think that by having those leadership roles available, it increases the quality of people. I think that will be here.
WALTER DEVRIES:
This really intrigues me. You take something like delivery of health services, do you see the way that you are going to set that up as kind of a model for an urban environment? Or the way you are going to deliver educational services and so on? Are you going to be doing that differently than other urban places have done?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
Well, I think that we are going to be…Soul City is somewhat experimental. And we don't make rules to be different.
WALTER DEVRIES:
I mean, are you going to have the same models?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
But we are flexible enough to accomplish the objectives that we seek. And we were talking about being solution-oriented. We don't think that what has gone on, we are debating now as to what kind of tax structure do you want? Or the use of tax funds. Can they not include transportation? So, all of our transportation could be free. So these are the kind of concepts that we deal with here as opposed to being in, say, the Raleigh or Durham area, where you are just wasting time even talking about dealing with one of those concepts. My time is running short.