John Carter

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John Carter was a black man accused of assaulting a white farmer's wife and daughter on a road south of Little Rock, Arkansas, and lynched on May 5, 1927. The lynching took place four days after the black Lonnie Dixon confessed to the murder of a white girl in the belfry of First Presbyterian Church. The local sheriff removed Dixon and his father, the church janitor, from the city, fearing white reprisals. A posse formed to locate the murderer soon seized on the story of the alleged attack by Carter on May 4th.

Carter, described as a "half-wit," was killed by a mob while the posse watched. His body was used as a target for small arms fire, dragged behind a car to the corner of Broadway and Ninth streets in the heart of the black business district, and burned atop a pile of wooden church pews or boards removed from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The local sheriff who witnessed the scene, but did not intervene, is reported to have said, "I never saw a more orderly crowd of hunters in my life." A riot lasted three hours until the governor called out state troops.

In the wake of the lynching, the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce called for the removal of the mayor, chief of police, and sheriff, without result. Author Marcet Haldeman-Julius, who visited the city soon after the lynching, reported that members of the mob took the law into their own hands because, as one told her, "They's been too many of these damn niggers gettin' away. ... It was time folks showed 'em something."


  • Michael Jay Beary, Black Bishop: Edward T. Demby and the Struggle for Racial Equality in the Episcopal Church (University of Illinois Press, 2001), 139.
  • James Harmon Chadbourn, Lynching and the Law (The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2008), 66-67.
  • Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 42, 98.

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