Chandra Maldonado

“…I’ve tried to let you know I really care and want every citizen to have the opportunity to talk face to face with the governor if he’s got a problem with state government.”

Chandra Maldonado, Ph.D., CRDM
Lead Researcher
“Governor James Holshouser Inauguration” (January 4-5, 1973)

16mm film (orig.)
color, silent
10:25 minutes (excerpt)

North Carolina, The Republican, and the Rise of Soul City

In 1973 the State of North Carolina witnessed a significant shift in state politics as the first republican took the governor’s office in the 20th century. After defeating the democratic nominee, Hargrove Bowles and succeeding Governor Robert Scott, James Holshouser’s first order of business as the newly elected governor was geared towards quickly creating cost-effective changes for the state as well as establishing an open communication platform between the state government and citizens. As an example, North Carolina’s “People’s Day” allowed citizens around the state to voice their grievances to Holshouser about state government actions. Humbly, Holshouser saw this platform as a way to connect with citizens as he notes:

But I guess most of all, it’s been through those People’s Day visits around our state that I’ve tried to let you know I really care and want every citizen to have the opportunity to talk face to face with the governor if he’s got a problem with state government. It’s taken me many places—often to places where you’ve told me a governor never came before—once he got elected. It means lots of follow-up work once we get back here to the office but it’s been worth it. (As quoted in Robinson & Mitchell, 1979, p. xxviii)

Clearly, Governor Holshouser was steadfast in his approaches in community engagement, especially his willingness to openly communicate with North Carolina citizens.

As another example of Holshouser’s community efforts, on November 9, 1973, a new city in North Carolina broke ground after many years in the planning stages. “Soul City” stood as a new hope for lower income communities, especially African Americans, and as a new step for “man’s desire to build a better life for himself and his children” (Robinson & Mitchell, 1979, p.173). Both Governor Holshouser and the creator of Soul City, Floyd Mckissick, saw the city as a promising place for dreams to come to fruition for those who believed in it as “enthusiasm and determination of those who dreamed this dream was contagious” (Robinson & Mitchell, 1979, pp.174-175). Indeed, the new city was built as a free enterprise for “black-controlled corporations but to be open to the people of all races” (Robinson & Mitchell, 1979, p. 173). All while Holshouser’s community efforts were illustrated on many levels, his backing of the “Soul City” project was most peculiar given the project failed to manifest into anything for some time after its groundbreaking.

Works Cited

Robinson, B. P., & Mitchell, M. F. (1979). Addresses and Public Papers of James Eubert Holshouser, Jr., Governor of North Carolina, 1973-1977. In Mitchell, M. (Ed.), (p. 718). Raleigh, North Carolina: Division of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources.

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Related documentation:
“Soul City” Pamphlet, 1974. Credit: University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Soul City” dedication, 12 November 1973. Credit: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Governor Jim Holshouser, Floyd McKissick, dedication of “Soul City”, 12 November 1973. Credit: Raleigh News & Observer and the State Archives of North Carolina.

Governor and Mrs. Jim Holshouser with daughter Ginny, 1973. Credit: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.