Born in Asheville, North Carolina, on March 9, 1922, Floyd B. McKissick did undergraduate work at Morehouse and and later became one of the first African Americans to graduate from the University of North Carolina School of Law. During World War II McKissick served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Europe. After the war, he began legal practice in Durham, North Carolina, where his most famous case involved a segregated black local union in the Tobacco Workers International, an AFL-CIO member. Throughout the early 1960s, McKissick represented many sit-in protestors and civil rights demonstrators, and often served as both a participant and legal advisor for this activities.
Floyd McKissick replaced James Farmer as head of CORE on January 3, 1966. Under McKissick’s leadership, the organization shifted towards promotion of black power. After leaving CORE in 1968, McKissick launched a plan to build a community, Soul City, in Warren County, North Carolina. In 1990, he was appointed as a judge in North Carolina's Ninth Judicial District. Floyd McKissick was working as a pastor of Soul City's First Baptist Church when he died at the age of 69 on April 28, 1991.