Walter P. Carter

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Walter P. Carter
Walter p. carter.jpg
Born (1923-04-29)April 29, 1923
Monroe, North Carolina
Died July 31, 1971(1971-07-31) (aged 48)
Baltimore, Maryland
Alma mater North Carolina A&T
Organization Congress of Racial Equality, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee,
Political movement
African-American Civil Rights Movement

Walter Percival Carter (April 29, 1923 - July 31, 1971) was a civil rights activist and a central figure in Baltimore’s civil rights movement, organizing demonstrations against discrimination throughout Maryland.[1] A hospital, an elementary school, a recreation center, a college library and a day-care center in Baltimore are named for him.

Background[edit]

Carter was the seventh of nine children born to Carrie P. and Walter Carter Sr. in Monroe, North Carolina.[2] He received his bachelor's degree from North Carolina A&T, where he participated in voter registration, the debate team, and was a member of the Progressive Party. He was well liked by his classmates, and admired for his keen intellect and unusual sense of humor. Carter obtained a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) at Howard University. While studying at Howard, he met young Stokely Carmichael and the two became friends.

Social activist[edit]

Carter led voter registration drives in the South, was a World War II veteran. As chairman of the local chapter of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE),[3] he was an organizer massive and aggressive campaigns, including the 1960 Freedom Rides to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Gwynn Oak Park, Howard Johnson Chain, and other eating establishments along Routes 40, 1, 150, and 50; apartment buildings, hotels, and other public accommodations throughout Maryland. Maryland coordinator of the March on Washington in 1963. He was a coordinator of the massive Federated Civil Rights Organization march, of more than 3,000, to protest segregation in housing in 1965.

In 1966, he and five other CORE members formed Activists for Fair Housing, later shortened to Activists, Inc. That year, the Apartment House Owners Association of Maryland was forced to open facilities to all.[4] In the late 1960s, Carter convinced the Community Chest, now known as the United Way of Central Maryland, to fund grass roots organizations with African American constituents, such as Echo House.[5] Carter protested segregated housing and poor living conditions that African Americans faced in Baltimore in the late 1950s and through the 1960s. He organized protest marches, often taking the fight to the homes of the whites who owned the segregated housing.[6]

Carter was appointed by mayor Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro III, to head the Community Action Agency (CAA). But the Baltimore City Council voted 10-8 on September 30 to not confirm Carter's appointment. According to news accounts, William Donald Schaefer complained that Carter was "too radical", and would move the agency forward at a pace at which the city was not yet ready. Due to Carter's rejection, 12 of 21 members of the Community Action Committee, three top members of the Urban Coalition including Parren J. Mitchell resigned from their positions in demonstration of protest to the rejection of the nomination of Walter Carter.

In 1963, Carter created the William L. Moore Foundation, for fellow CORE activist and Baltimorean William L. Moore. Moore was marching to the mansion of the Alabama state Governor to deliver a letter. While embarking on this lone march on April 23, 1963, in Gadsden, Alabama, Moore was shot in the head twice and later found by a motorist passing by. The letter that Moore intending on giving to the Governor was later found and never delivered to the Governor of Alabama.

Legacy[edit]

Walter P. Carter Elementary School
Walter P. Carter Recreation Center

Carter died on July 31, 1971, as he was giving a report to the Black United Front, at Rev. Vernon Dobson's Union Baptist Church in Baltimore. The previous day, Carter had won a court battle against Morris Goldseker. Goldseker had sought an injunction against Carter, who had been picketing and leading protests outside Goldseker's office, calling on him to "Stop the Black Tax", referring to the excessive fees charged in his rent-to-own schemes in an effort to scam blacks out of their rights to homeownership. Goldseker had a notorious history of also engaging in a practice known as Blockbusting.[7][8] Walter Carter protested against these and other discriminatory housing practices.


Congressman Parren Mitchell added this to the Congressional Record:

Mr. Speaker, the State of Maryland last week, lost one of the most able civil rights leaders in the person of Walter P. Carter. Expressions of sympathy have come from across the nation and around the world. I think this should be a very special lesson to this House to learn that there are whites who recognize the contributions of a man who articulates black identity and black awareness.[9]

The Walter P. Carter Mental Health Hospital was established on 630 West Fayette Street in Baltimore in 1976 in Carter's honor.[10] That hospital closed in 2009. Many of its outpatient services were moved to a building operated by the University of Maryland Medical Center on 701 West Pratt Street. That building was renamed the Walter P. Carter Center, and its dedication occurred on January 5, 2010.[11] There is also a day care center,[12] a public school[13] and a college library in Baltimore named for Carter.[14] Every year, the children at the Walter P. Carter Elementary School participate in a "Walter P. Carter Day" program where they come up with different ways of celebrating his legacy.

In 2012, Carter's relentlless struggle for human and civil rights was the subject of a documentary film produced by the University of Maryland School of Psychiatry: Walter P. Carter:Champion for Change. In the film, Carter is referred to as the "Martin Luther King of Maryland".[15] The film will air on Maryland Public Television February 25, 2013, at 10:30 p.m.

Family[edit]

Carter's wife, Zerita "Joy" Richardson Carter, a native-Baltimorean, and retired public school teacher, continues to reside at the family home in Ashburton. Carter's younger daughter, Jill Priscilla Carter, is an attorney and member of the Maryland House of Delegates. Carter's elder daughter, Judith Lynn, is married to Baltimore City circuit court judge Sylvester B. Cox and together they have two daughters, Lindsey and Erin. Lindsey Carter Cox, so named in honor of her grandfather, is a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in Business Administration, scheduled to graduate in May 2009. Erin Taylor Cox,[16] the younger of the granddaughters, was the All City Volleyball Champion in 2008, and is currently a sophomore at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where she is a member of the volleyball team. She was scheduled to graduate in 2012.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pietila, Antero (2006-11-10). "Line forms for Baltimore mayoral vacancy". Post-Newsweek Media, Inc./The Gazette. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  2. ^ "Carter Recreation Center". Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Retrieved 2008-05-13. Archived 16 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Joseph, Penial (2006). The Black Power Movement. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-415-94595-0. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  4. ^ "House Joint Resolution 29". Maryland State Archives. 1972-04-26. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  5. ^ "History". Echo House. Retrieved 2008-05-15. [dead link]
  6. ^ Morgan, Ken (2006-01-19). "Baltimore Civil Rights Veterans Contribute to MLK Legacy". The Baltimore Times. Retrieved 2008-05-13. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Chopping Blocks: Former Sun reporter Antero Pietila explores a century of Baltimore's racist real-estate deals and developments | Baltimore City Paper". Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  8. ^ "New book on segregation and bigotry holds up a harsh mirror to Baltimore | Baltimore Brew". Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  9. ^ Mitchell, Perren (1971-08-05). "Death Of Walter P. Carter". Congressional Record (Washington, D.C.: United States of America) 117 (126). 
  10. ^ "Walter P. Carter Center". Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  11. ^ "Dedication Held for New Walter P. Carter Center Location | Baltimore City Paper". Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  12. ^ "Walter P. Carter day Care Center". The Center for the Promotion of Child Development through Primary Care. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  13. ^ "Walter P. Carter Elementary School". Local School Directory. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  14. ^ "A Man and a Library Share a 30-Year Anniversary". Sojourner-Douglass College. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  15. ^ "Documentary Spotlights Walter Carter, The ‘MLK Of Maryland’", CBS Baltimore, February 2, 2012.
  16. ^ "All-Baltimore City: Volleyball", Baltimore Sun, December 12, 2007.