Soul City, North Carolina

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Civil rights activist turned developer, Floyd B. McKissick, secured funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1972 to create Soul City as one of HUD’s 14 New Towns. The inclusive, but predominantly black, planned community was to encompass 3,500 acres in Warren County North Carolina. McKissick’s vision focused on families and included businesses, residences, recreational spaces, and a water treatment plant. HUD halted funding to the New Town after eight years and only some commitment from African Americans. Lacking financial support and with limited investment from potential buyers, development in Soul City ceased. McKissick sold his investments in Soul City, but some residents and the town’s imprint still remain. When Warren County dumped tainted soil in a landfill near Soul City in 1979, black residents protested by lying in front of the trucks carrying hazardous materials. Their actions were a part of the foundation of the civil rights-oriented environmental justice struggle.