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Thu, 03.09.1922

Floyd McKissick, Activist born

Floyd McKissick

*On this date, in 1922, Floyd McKissick was born. He was a Black activist and a former National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

From Asheville, North Carolina, Floyd Bixler McKissick did his undergraduate education at that state’s colleges and Morehouse College. His attempt to apply for Law School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was denied because the school was not integrated. With the help of NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, he sued the school and became the first African American to earn a LL. B degree at the University of North Carolina.

During this time, he became active in CORE, replacing James Farmer as its head in 1966.  Under McKissick, the organization moved more directly into the Black Power movement, refusing to support Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent policy in northern cities. CORE’s direction focused instead on political power and economic improvement of Blacks.  In 1967, the organization moved to eliminate the word "multiracial" from its constitution.

“Economic power,” he said, “is the first prerequisite for political power.” Yet McKissick surprised his allies by joining the Republican Party in the late 1960s.  He claimed that he did so to give Blacks a voice within the GOP.

He resigned from CORE in 1968 and started a plan to establish a new community in Warren County, North Carolina, called "Soul City." Some, however, suspected that McKissick was simply trying to win support from the Nixon administration for his “Soul City” project.  This endeavor was based on the ability of a location to support its population of 50,000 through the industry. McKissick received a 14 million dollar bond issue guarantee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a loan of $500,000 from the First Pennsylvania State Bank for his plan.

Soul City, however, ran into difficulties, and despite the efforts of McKissick, the project never developed and was taken over by the federal government in June 1980. The company did retain 88 acres of land and a building that housed its headquarters.  Floyd McKissick died on April 28th, 1991, and was buried at Soul City.



The biographical dictionary of Black Americans
by Rachel Krantz and Elizabeth A.Ryan
Copyright 1992, Facts on File, New York, NY
ISBN 0-8160-2324-7

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