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PAPER TRAILS: Marker to recognize 1927 lynching in Little Rock

by Sean Clancy | June 13, 2021 at 9:38 a.m.

At 2 p.m. today, near the place where he was lynched, John Carter will be memorialized.

A commemorative marker will be dedicated during a ceremony at Haven of Rest Cemetery, 7102 W. 12th St. in Little Rock, to honor Carter, the 38-year-old Black man who was shot, hanged and burned on May 4, 1927, after allegedly assaulting a white woman and her child.

The marker placement and commemoration will be presented by the Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial Movement, Just Communities of Arkansas, the Pulaski County Community Remembrance Project, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative.

It will also be streamed online — see to register.

From 4-6 p.m. at the Central High National Historic Site, awards will be given for the Little Rock School District's Racial Justice Essay Contest, and a dedication will be conducted of soil taken from the lynching site.

"You can't address the present and build a racially equitable future without understanding how we got here," says Donald Wood, executive director of Just Communities of Arkansas. "[Carter] was a human being who was tragically taken from us, and we want to memorialize and honor him."

Remembering Carter and his death can help "tell the whole truth, and teach people about moving forward in a way that this never happens again," Wood says. "The incident itself was horrific, but we don't think talking about it is horrific. We have to talk about it. This is reality."

A crowd of about 5,000 white people rioted at Ninth Street and Broadway, which was then the heart of Little Rock's Black business district and where Carter's corpse had been dragged by a car, according to the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas. A grand jury was convened to investigate the lynching but issued no indictments.

Between 1877 and 1950, there were 493 reported "Racial Terror Lynchings" in Arkansas, according to the Equal Justice Initiative.

Along with Carter, the Arkansas memorial group plans to place markers honoring Pulaski County lynching victims Homer G. Blackman, Frank Moore, Henry James, Jim Sanders and Lonnie Dixon, Wood says. It also hopes to commemorate the 21 boys who died in the 1959 fire at the Negro Boys Industrial School at Wrightsville.

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