Monday 30 May 2016

Look Beyond Borders

Amnesty International launched a new video showing recently-arrived refugees and Europeans who look into each other's eyes for four minutes.

"The video, Look Beyond Borders, is based on a theory that four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact increases intimacy. Amnesty International Poland and Polish ad agency DDB&Tribal applied the theory, developed by psychologist Arthur Aron in 1997, to the refugee crisis, sitting refugees from Syria and Somalia opposite people from Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK, with overwhelmingly positive results." (via)

“We decided to conduct a simple experiment during which refugees and Europeans sat across from each other and looked each other in the eyes. We recorded these very human encounters and the short film speaks for itself. People from different continents who have literally never set eyes on each other before come away feeling an amazing connection.” 
Draginja Nadażdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland.

“We conducted the experiment in Berlin because the city symbolizes the overcoming of divisions. In that sense, the most important thing is to give people time to understand each other better and get to know one another.”
Hanna Waśko, a campaign organiser from ad agency Big Picture.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Born this day: Sally Kristen Ride

"On June 18, 1983, NASA astronaut Sally Ride broke through the ultimate glass ceiling, blasting into orbit on the shuttle Challenger as part of the crew of mission STS-7. Since her history-making flight, 39 female NASA astronauts have followed her into space, including shuttle commanders and an International Space Station commander."

Astronaut and astrophysicist Sally Kristen Ride (1951-2012) was born on 26th of May 1951 in California. She became the first US-American woman to fly in space in 1983 (aboard the space shuttle Challenger) and flew on the space shuttle again in 1984. She was scheduled for a third trip which was cancelled after the Challenger accident in 1986 (via and via).
"For whatever reason, I didn't succumb to the stereotype that science wasn't for girls. I got encouragement from my parents. I never ran into a teacher or a counselor who told me that science was for boys. A lot of my friends did." Sally Ride
"For a long time, society put obstacles in the way of women who wanted to enter the sciences." Sally Ride
"Yes, I did feel a special responsibility to be the first American woman in space." Sally Ride
"There are aspects of being the first woman in space that I'm not going to enjoy." Sally Ride

"I think it's important for little girls growing up, and young women, to have one in every walk of life. So from that point of view, I'm proud to be a role model!" Sally Ride
"The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it." Sally Ride
After leaving NASA, Ride became the director of the California Space Institute at the University of California and a professor of physics. In 2001, she started her own company with the focus on educational programmes and products ("Sally Ride Science"). Her main motivation was to help students in general and inspire girls and young women in particular, girls who wanted to study science and mathematics, wrote science books for students and teachers and came up with the idea of for NASA's EarthKAM project - EarthKAM lets middle school students take pictures of Earth using a camera on the International Space Station.
Sally Ride received many honours and was inducted into the National Women's hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. She passed away at the age of 61 but will always be remembered as "a pioneering astronaut who went where no other American woman had gone before" (via and via).

"The astronauts who came in with me in my astronaut class - my class had 29 men and 6 women - those men were all very used to working with women."
Sally Ride

"The women's movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming."
Sally Ride

"I wish that there had been another woman on my flight. I think it would have been a lot easier."
Sally Ride talking to Gloria Steinem: LISTEN/WATCH

photographs via and via and via

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Sesame Street and Education for Refugee Children

Sesame Workshop (Sesame Street's educational nonprofit) and the International Rescue Committee (a global humanitarian aid organisation) have a new partnership aiming to develop and distribute educational resources and programmes that are designed with refugee children in mind. Using mobile devices, radio, TV and printed materials, educational content can reach the children who live in displaced or resettled communities

"The partnership is aimed at the children who make up half of the record 60 million people currently displaced around the world, specifically the one-third of that population under the age of eight. In addition to a lack of education, these children also often deal with toxic stress and trauma." (via)

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photograph via

Monday 23 May 2016

Presidential Elections, Austria, Voting Behaviour and Education

Yesterday the presidential elections took place in Austria, with two candidates who could not be more different from each other: a) an "exclusion candidate" from a party whose main political content communicated in campaigns is patriotism, nationalism, asylym seekers (a "big" problem; after all an equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population claimed asylum in Austria last year, via), xenophobia and Islam bashing, and b) an "inclusion candidate", an intellectual who stands for inclusion and modern social policies.

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz expressed concern over a victory of the far-right candidate (via) while Le Pen, Wilders, Petry and Salvini congratulated him (via and via).

The results?
About half of the people voted for one candidate, about half of the people voted for the other candidate. The final result will be decided by this afternoon when hundred thousands of postal ballots are counted.

The demographics?
- 81% of people with a university degree voted for the "inclusion candidate", 19% of them for the "exclusion candidate"
- 73% of people with "Matura" (i.e. 12 years of school education with school leaving exams that entitle you to study at university) voted for the "inclusion candidate", 27% for the "exclusion candidate"
- 67% of people with minimum compulsory schooling and apprenticeship voted for the "exclusion candidate", 33% of them for the "inclusion candidate"
Blue vs white:
- 86% of blue-collar workers voted for the "exclusion candidate", 14% of them for the "inclusion candidate"
Urban vs rural:
- Cities clearly voted for the "inclusion candidate", 61.99% of people living in Graz and 61.16 of people living in Vienna voted for the "inclusion candidate" ... just to mention two cities
- 60% of women voted for the "inclusion candidate", 60% of men for the "exclusion candidate"

(Statistics via and via)

photograph (Miss Nell Sanders Aspero, Mrs. Anthony A. Aspero, Chairman of Voters Service and practicing attorney, Mrs. Robert W. Shafer, President of the Memphis League and Bobby Shafer Jr, all of Memphis with Mrs. Asperos' Oldsmobile and "Bossy." August 1959) via, Vote Baby Vote via

Saturday 21 May 2016

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

"In a diverse world, the destruction of cultures is a crime, and uniformity is a dead-end: our aim must be to enhance, in one movement, the diversity that enriches us and the human rights that bring us together."
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

In 2002, UNESCO declared 21st of May to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Since 2011, the grassroots campaign "Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion" has been celebrating the world day encouraging people and organisations from around the world to take action, to raise awareness about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion, to build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity, to combat polarisation and stereotypes (via).

Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, excerpts:


Article 1 – Cultural diversity: the common heritage of humanity

Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.

Article 2 – From cultural diversity to cultural pluralism

In our increasingly diverse societies, it is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together. Policies for the inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion, the vitality of civil society and peace. Thus defined, cultural pluralism gives policy expression to the reality of cultural diversity. Indissociable from a democratic framework, cultural pluralism is conducive to cultural exchange and to the flourishing of creative capacities that sustain public life.

Article 3 – Cultural diversity as a factor in development
Cultural diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.


Article 4 – Human rights as guarantees of cultural diversity

The defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity. It implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the rights of persons belonging to minorities and those of indigenous peoples. No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope.

Article 5 – Cultural rights as an enabling environment for cultural diversity

Cultural rights are an integral part of human rights, which are universal, indivisible and interdependent. The flourishing of creative diversity requires the full implementation of cultural rights as defined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Articles 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All persons have therefore the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue; all persons are entitled to quality education and training that fully respect their cultural identity; and all persons have the right to participate in the cultural life of their choice and conduct their own cultural practices, subject to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Article 6 – Towards access for all to cultural diversity

While ensuring the free flow of ideas by word and image care should be exercised so that all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known. Freedom of expression, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the possibility for all cultures to have access to the means of expression and dissemination are the guarantees of cultural diversity. 


Article 7 – Cultural heritage as the wellspring of creativity

Creation draws on the roots of cultural tradition, but flourishes in contact with other cultures. For this reason, heritage in all its forms must be preserved, enhanced and handed on to future generations as a record of human experience and aspirations, so as to foster creativity in all its diversity and to inspire genuine dialogue among cultures.

Article 8 – Cultural goods and services: commodities of a unique kind

In the face of present-day economic and technological change, opening up vast prospects for creation and innovation, particular attention must be paid to the diversity of the supply of creative work, to due recognition of the rights of authors and artists and to the specificity of cultural goods and services which, as vectors of identity, values and meaning, must not be treated as mere commodities or consumer goods.

Article 9 – Cultural policies as catalysts of creativity

While ensuring the free circulation of ideas and works, cultural policies must create conditions conducive to the production and dissemination of diversified cultural goods and services through cultural industries that have the means to assert themselves at the local and global level. It is for each State, with due regard to its international obligations, to define its cultural policy and to implement it through the means it considers fit, whether by operational support or appropriate regulations.

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photographs by Leonard Freed (Harlem fashion show, 1963) via and via

Friday 20 May 2016

A Psychoanalytical Approach to "Jaws", Gender & a Tribute to Lalo Schifrin

"We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark." (via)

"Although it might seem strange to ponder the gender of a mechanical Great White, parsing out Bruce the Shark's gender allows us to glean new insights into the overall metaphors featured in Jaws (1975) and its sequels. By examining the gender roles of both Bruce and the protagonists, we can further dissect the film’s central conflict of man (and, by proxy, progress) versus nature and decipher the message Jaws ultimately sends about masculinity in society." Savanna Teague
There have been discussions about the role of gender in Steven Spielberg's "Jaws". According to Bryan S. Ghingold, Spielberg introduces the shark as an "über-male", gives him the "Male Gaze" instead of giving it to the audience and by doing so subverts "the spectator's male pride". The "über-male" shark's body is called a "most phallic representation", the mayor an "example of a metaphorically castrated male", the oceanographer as the opposite of a "pinnacle of masculinity in American cinematic psychology", the shark hunter a person who is overcompensating for his shortcomings "by surrounding himself with the symbolically masculine jaws" (via). But things get even more complicated as "Jaws does not label its finned foe as either gender" making both possible: Bruce, the shark, (the shark was named Bruce jokingly after Spielberg's lawyer only during the production of the film) is read as a representation of masculinity or encompasses the "monstrous feminine" (via).
"In either gender reading of Bruce, the conclusion of Jaws affirms the dominance of masculinity (and a particular idea of masculinity) as the key to maintaining order in civilization. While women are threatened by, or victims of, the shark menace, the quest to overcome the primal danger and the blind natural instinct of the shark is a male adventure. On the one hand, this may suggest that Jaws tells us men are in charge of forming our modern society. On the other, it may imply that men are most in need of overcoming this reckless primal nature within themselves." Savanna Teague
No matter which gender and what role it plays, one thing is clear: The music...

The film's score was composed by John Williams, the second most nominated individual (50 Academy Award nominations, 22 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards) (via).
::: Original theme: LISTEN
The soundtrack was released in 1975. In 1976, genius Lalo Schifrin released his brilliant discofied version of Jaws.
::: Lalo Schifrin's Jaws(!): LISTEN
The same year, the official BBC troupe danced to Schifrin's disco cover at the Top of the Pops.
::: BBC dancing troupe: WATCH

photographs via and via and via and via and via

Tuesday 17 May 2016

A is for Afro, B is for Beautiful, C is for Cool: The Black ABC from the 1970s

"A picture says more than a thousand words."
The phrase was introduced by Frederick R. Barnard in 1921 publishing "One look is worth a thousand words", a piece on the effectiveness of graphics in advertising. Barnard pointed out that the phrase was originally coined by a Japanese philosopher adding "and he was right" (via).

The following flash cards were published in 1970 by the Society for Visual Education in Chicago, founded by professor of astronomy Forest Ray Moulton and utilities magnate Harley L. Clarke in 1919 (Saettler, 2004). Here is a quote from the back of the original flash cards:
"The pictures are of people and situations particularly relevant to many city children and thus make the reading readiness program in city schools more meaningful." (via)

::: The ABC, Kermit, Joey, and the cookie monster WATCH

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- Saettler, P. (2004) The Evolution of American Educational Technology. Sacramento: Information Age Publishing
- images A via and B via and C via and D via and E via and F via and G via and H via and I via and J via and K via and L via and M via and N via and O via and P via and Q via and R via and S via and T via and U via and V via and W via and X via and Y via and Z via

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Harry Belafonte & the March on Washington: "That was America at its greatest."

The atmosphere that day in Washington was a mixture of hope and excitement. I think that everyone who attended the march felt empowered. There was a tremendous sense that we were pursuing a cause that was honourable, but, equally, that what we wanted was achievable. We were there as Americans and all of America was represented that day. It felt like we were witnessing a new moment, a renaissance of hope and activism. It was truly inspiring.

But, you know, it was not just the day, but the weeks and months and days leading up to it. As a civil rights activist, I had many conversations with Robert Kennedy, who was worried (...). We assured Robert Kennedy that it would be focused, well marshalled and non-violent and he wanted to believe us, but our detractors had his ear also. The city was surrounded by police and state troopers on the ready. So, we also had something to prove. And prove it we did.

It was glorious. We had high expectations and they were fulfilled. There was a young speaker I remember who preceded Dr King, a forceful young man called John Lewis from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and he was very outspoken about America's leaders even though he toned his rhetoric down after some of the civil rights people asked him to. That was a good speech. There were several rousing speeches before Dr King took the platform, as well as music and singing. It was an energising day.

Of course, the "I Have a Dream" speech was the event of the day. It has since been recognised as one of the great speeches of American history. I was not surprised by the content, because we had worked with him on it and we were in tune with the message, but what we were not prepared for was the delivery, the oratory. The imagery flowed, the language flowed. It was Shakespearean.

There is one thing I have to say about the speech, though, and I say it when I am called on to speak about Dr King to students all over America. I tell them: you need to study the whole speech because the text before the "I Have a Dream" part is a deeper reflection of what he was striving for. The details and the passion of the struggle are spelt out in the preceding passages.

The spirit that Dr King called forth was a profoundly American spirit, as was his struggle. What made me feel so good about that struggle was that it was ordinary people who were becoming empowered through his words, to realise their own possibilities.

Much of my political outlook was already in place when I encountered Dr King. I was well on my way and utterly committed to the civil rights struggle. I came to him with expectations and he affirmed them. Like many black American men of my generation, I had lived through two defining moments: I had been born into the Great Depression and I had fought for America against the Nazis in the second world war.

To then come back to an America where black people were denied their basic rights as citizens was to come back to a so-called democracy where political evils still taunted us. Then we looked around us and saw that England, Belgium, France, the great colonisers, were hanging on to their colonies even after the second world war. I believe to this day that it was that experience that underpinned the beginnings of the civil rights struggle in America. We had to take on the challenge, fight these injustices, these evils. (...)

That is why I sometimes say in my speeches that we have to stop this deification of Dr King and look at him as an ordinary man who empowered himself and others through politics and activism. Look at the details of his struggle: the strategy, the speeches, the mind, the intellect. Then you can begin to understand how an ordinary man is empowered to find himself. Who was Martin Luther King before he was Dr Martin Luther King? He came from somewhere and that somewhere was the same hardship and struggle to survive of many of his followers. He had the same fears and hopes and anxieties and aspirations. To deify him is, in a way, to reduce his achievement and to remove the radicalism from it. I would counsel against that and argue for a real reappraisal of his achievements, which were of the highest order.

One of my abiding memories of the day was something I will probably never experience again: such a tide of people leaving with such a sense of satisfaction and hope. That was America at its greatest. And I have no doubt we can get back there again by moving forward. We need leaders, though, spokesmen and women we can have faith in, not this compromised form of leadership that is cynical and speaks out for the power of the few at the cost of the many. (...)

But there is also a new passion for struggle on the horizon. (...) In my experience, when people feel they have had enough, activism grows and, from activism, comes change.

I can feel it in the air when I speak at colleges all over America, which I am being asked to do now more than ever. Young people are hungry for change. They carry an optimism and a great sense of hope but it has not yet been articulated. But, it will be because it must be. That, too, is Dr King's legacy. He made history, but history also made him.

Harry Belafonte, 2013

Related postings:

::: Martin Luther King Day: LINK
::: I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze: LINK
::: Sammy Davis, Jr. Gets a Letter from Martin Luther King: LINK
::: I have a dream: LINK
::: "And we shall overcome." From Selma to Montgomery: LINK

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literally via/complete text (The Guardian, 11 August 2013)
photographs via and via and via and via

Friday 6 May 2016

Quoting Carmen Dell'Orefice

"We have to program the mind of the public that age is not ugly. Age is just age. Wake up, American children, and stop listening to other people's voices. Know yourself, be true to yourself and make a contribution. It took me half my life to know myself. I listened to other people's opinions and took them as gospel."
Carmen Dell'Orefice

photograph by Julian Broad (2008)  via

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, The Graduate, Feminism and Racism

"Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman to land a job."

Tootsie is also the film that raised Dustin Hoffman's feminist consciousness; the film made him realise that he had been told a lie, had accepted the lie and had lived the lie. In a most beautiful interview (WATCH) Hoffman talks about how the film changed him. Tootsie was particularly popular with actors as they saw it on a level the rest of the public didn't since actors are exposed to "the true horror of auditioning" (via).

"When we got to that point and looked at it on screen, I was shocked that I wasn't more attractive. I said, 'Now you have me looking like a woman, now make me a beautiful woman.' Because I thought I should be beautiful. ... And they said to me, 'That's as good as it gets.'"
"It was at that moment I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying, talking to my wife. And I said I have to make this picture, and she said, 'Why?' And I said, 'Because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill physically the demands that we're brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out. She says, 'What are you saying?'"
"I said, 'There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed. That ['Tootsie'] was never a comedy for me."
Dustin Hoffman

"Tootsie is the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren't afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs. This movie gets you coming and going...The movie also manages to make some lighthearted but well-aimed observations about sexism. It also pokes satirical fun at soap operas, New York show business agents and the Manhattan social pecking order."
Roger Egbert

“There’s a lack of diversity in women vis-a-vis men – it’s always been that way on the set. “Now you still shoot 35mm film, mostly I’m aware of the fact that the lowliest camera assistant is usually a woman and her job, ironically, is usually to carry the magazines of film, which are very heavy. It seems always to go to the woman – she’s given the worst job.”
Dustin Hoffman

"The next question is how many talented women didn’t get the chance to direct because of their gender. Probably quite a few, and the question is why?"
Dustin Hoffman

“That’s taken a long time. It has taken this long to have leading women who are not … the cover of a magazine.”
Dustin Hoffman

Hoffman was born in Los Angeles but felt like a New Yorker; he was even asked by his classmates if he came from New York when he had not yet been there (via).
“There was a good deal of antisemitism in Los Angeles, and I thought of New York as being somehow more assimilated.” Dustin Hoffman
In an interview, Dustin Hoffman recalls that "people like him" were not supposed to be film stars when he was growing up.
“In a sense, that lack of diversity was around then – in my day, if you didn’t look like Tab Hunter or Troy Donahue …”
Dustin Hoffman
“There were two papers, Backstage and Showbiz, you got to try to get a job. It would list the parts available, and they would say: ‘Leading men, leading women, leading juveniles, leading ingénues; character leading men, character ingénues, character juveniles” – that was the funny-looking semitic guy. That meant you weren’t good-looking, and good-looking meant white Anglo-Saxon protestant.”
Dustin Hoffman
"Nichols chose to give this short, funny-looking Jewish guy the role usually reserved for a tall, handsome protestant." Dustin Hoffman on getting the role in The Graduate
“I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I think there’s always going to be some kind of bigotry or some kind of racism. There has to be, because people can’t feel that they have any hero qualities unless there’s someone beneath them.”
Dustin Hoffman
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photographs of Dustin Hoffman by Terry O'Neill via and via

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Born this day: Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima Poinsette Clark was born on 3rd of May 1898 in Charleston, South Carolina. Her father was a former slave, her mother a free woman. Clark was an educator and civil rights activist - working as a teacher she experienced firsthand "an oppressive system as well as possible solutions to problems of inequality, illiteracy, and poverty", i.e. inadquate schoolhouses, short school terms, overcrowded classrooms, lack of transportation for students and low wages for teachers (via). Although qualifying as a teacher, she was not hired to teach in public schools due to her skin tone. Charleston did not hire black Americans to teach in its public schools and Clark joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to get the city hire black US-Americans (via).

"For the school year of 1915–1916, the value of schoolhouses in South Carolina for whites was more than $5 million compared to a little over $600,000 for blacks. The average expenditure according to enrollment was $17.02 per white child and $1.90 per black child (1916 State Superintendent Report, pp. 140, 146). Out of 1,176 school buildings for African Americans, most were made of logs and only two were brick buildings; 778 were in churches or lodge halls. In 1916, Clark received $35 per month as principal and teacher and her associate received $25 for teaching a class of more than sixty students each. In comparison, white teachers taught classes with no more than eighteen students. One teacher taught only three students. They were paid $85 per month." (via)
Septima Poinsette Clark was an advocate for a teachers' salary equalisation campaign in the 1920s, worked with civil rights lawyers and fought for equal pay until in 1945, Federal District Judge J. Waties Waring of South Carolina ruled that black teachers with equal education should receive equal pay. Clark taught skills necessary for true citizenship, focused on citizenship training, voting, and literacy, and established, for instance, a programme to educate illiterate soldiers.
Forty years after her first teaching assignment, in 1956, the South Carolina legislature passed a law stating that city and state employees were not allowed to affiliate themselves with civil rights organisations. Clark refused to leave the NAACP, was fired at 58 years of age and lost her state retirement benefits which she finally received in 1976 - after two decades of fighting for them (via). In 1979, Jimmy Carter honoured her with a Living Legacy Award, in 1982, she received South Carolina's highest civilian honour, the Order of the Palmetto. After a life spent on helping many people to "take control of their lives and discover their full rights as citizens", she passed away aged 89 on 15th of December 1987 (via).
"In teaching [the poor and underprivileged] and thereby helping them raise themselves to a better status in life, I felt then that I would [also] be serving my state and nation, too, all of the people, affluent and poor, white and black. For in my later years I am more convinced than ever that in lifting the lowly we lift likewise the entire citizenship". Septima Poinsette Clark

photograph by Brian Lanker (1947-2011) via and photo via

Monday 2 May 2016

Soul City

Floyd Bixler McKissick (1922-1991) was the first black student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Law School, a core leader of the Congress of Racial Equality and the founder of Soul City where he lived until his death (via).

Floyd McKissick's idea was to build a city for African Americans, steered by black interests and funded by the federal government (via); McKissick was the first black American to develop a new city with federal funding (via). He believed in "a strategy built squarely on capitalism to counter the entrenched racism that fueled urban neglect and the destitute conditions of black neighborhoods", a city in which black Americans would not be subjected to racism, where they could determine both economic and political destinies. After President Lyndon B. Johnson's lip service, Nixon, in fact, did finance McKissick's project ... McKissick had switched parties in the late 1960s to support Nixon (via).
“The roots of the urban crisis are in the migratory pattern of rural people seeking to leave areas of economic and racial oppression. … So in building a new city in a rural area, we help to solve this.”
Floyd McKissick

And so McKissick started developing a city in Warren County, North Carolina, in a region that at that time was growing poorer as residents were fleeing the South (via). McKissick installed Soul City in a county where more than 60% of the population were black Americans but virtually all elected officials were white, where the Ku Klux Klan was clearly present. Soul City managed to build the region's first real water system, a health clinic, new sewage infrastructure in one of the poorest counties in the state (median income in 1960: $1.958,- in Warren County vs $6.691,- nation's average) (via).
"Given the for blacks, by blacks mission of Soul City, the public investment served essentially as reparations, or at least a security deposit for reparations. The political landscape of the time—sullen from the assassinations of King and Robert F. Kennedy—was more sympathetic to racial causes and conducive to making amends." (via)

Soul City did not become the "spearhead of racial equality", no "new southern economic engine" once hoped and envisioned (via). In 1979 the city had a population of less than 150 instead of 2.000, big companies that had considered building operations centres in Soul City pulled out, controversy around the separatist approach, the oil and energy crisis, hard-right conservatives, and North Carolina's decision to dump tons of toxic soil waste in Warren County made it difficult for the city to develop. McKissick finally sold Soul City off to private interests; including the "Soul Tech I" business that is today the Warren Correctional Institution with 809 beds ... "housing far more people than McKissick was ever able to recruit to Soul City" (via).
"Facing a hostile political environment and hampered by a foreboding economic climate, Floyd McKissick’s bold attempt to sustain a free-standing new town based on African American activism seemed doomed from the start. The uneasy marriage between black capitalism and the federal bureaucracy sundered at Soul City, a part of the larger failure of the new towns movement to solve the urban crisis of the late twentieth century." Roger Biles
Despite everything, Warren County benefitted very much from the infrastructure funding McKissick had raised and the city became a "solid display of African-American driven urban planning" with some people still living there - people for whom Soul City was and is their everything, people who are proud to be part of it as a part of the city's legacy (via).

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photographs via and via and via