Black History Month Spotlight – Lynching of John Carter

John Carter lynch victimThe new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

On May 4, 1927, Little Rock witnessed its worst episode of racial violence in the twentieth century. Thirty-eight year old African American John Carter allegedly “assaulted” two white women on the outskirts of the city. A white mob hunted Carter down, hung him from a telegraph pole, and riddled his dead body with hundreds of bullets. The mob transported Carter’s body downtown and then dragged it through the streets tied to the back of an automobile.

Thousands of white onlookers gathered at West Ninth Street and Broadway, the heart of the black business district. There the mob tore pews from Bethel AME Church, one of the city’s largest and oldest black churches, and threw Carter’s body onto a makeshift funeral pyre. The mob only dispersed when Gov. John E. Martineau sent in Arkansas National Guardsmen because Mayor Charles Moyer, the Chief of Police, and Sheriff “could not be reached.” No charges were ever brought against any of the perpetrators.

During the Jim Crow era, white lynch mobs murdered at least 284 black people in Arkansas, the second highest per capita number of lynchings in any state outside of Mississippi.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.