Soul City, North Carolina
Soul City was envisioned in the late 1960s as a rural black utopia by activist/developer Floyd McKissick. McKissick's vision was for Soul City to become a black majority planned community that was politically and economically independent. It was hoped that Soul City would attract and keep rural blacks that were leaving the economically depressed countryside of northeast North Carolina for large cities. The concept was pitched to the Federal government as an integrated planned community that would become an economic engine for what was and still is a poor part of the state. McKissick secured $14 million in development funds from HUD in 1972 to begin work on the community. Streets, water and other infrastructure were built along with the first of many planned industrial buildings (Soul Tech 1). The community grew slowly and was hampered by allegations of corruption and a lengthy investigation in the mid 1970s. HUD pulled it's support for the project in 1979. At the time that HUD pulled out and effectively killed the project there were 35 homes in Soul City. There have been a few additional homes built in Soul City since then. The original homes of Soul City are occupied and well maintained when I last visited (2012). The Soul Tech 1 building was acquired by the expanding Warren Correctional Institution which is a nearby state run prison. The prison is now the largest employer in the area and some of the prison staff presumably live in the Soul City development. Soul City's history is fascinating but it's not very interesting to visit. The only things that set it apart from any of the other rural communities in the area are the Soul City sign (pictured) and the names of Liberation Road and Soul City Boulevard.