On May 4, 1927, a Black man named John Carter saved a white woman and her daughter from a runaway horse and was lynched for his good deed. Little Rock was already tense after the murder of a 12-year-old white girl a few days before, with a Black father and son blamed for the crime. The Great Mississippi Flood of that year had washed away spring crops, leaving people hungry and desperate.
Convinced that the white mother and daughter had been not saved by Carter but instead assaulted, an armed mob tracked him down. Rioters hung Carter, 38, from a telephone pole, shot him and dragged his body through the streets. When the Arkansas National Guard showed up to tame the riot, they found a white man directing traffic with Carter’s charred, dismembered arm.
It’s a horrific chapter in Arkansas history, but an important one. At 2 p.m. this Sunday, supporters of the Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial Movement’s Community Remembrance Project will put up a historic marker at Haven of Rest Cemetery to commemorate Carter’s life. The cemetery is near the intersection of 12th Street and Rodney Parham Road. Afterwards, at 4 p.m., the event moves to the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center at 2120 West Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive for an awards ceremony, where winners of an LRSD Racial Justice Essay Contest will be announced and celebrated.
The public is invited, and the events will be livestreamed, too.