Women Who Carry Their Baskets: Eunice Carter

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Eunice Carter was born in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia to activist parents. Her parents were the original founders of the black division of the YMCA. She went on to be the second woman to graduate Smith College in four years with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. She proceeded to enroll in Fordham University Law School, and graduate from there in 1932.

  After graduating law school, Eunice established her own law practice. A few years later she joined the New York prosecutor’s office which was under the direction of Thomas Dewey. She was a diligent worker and thoughtful legal mind. Nonetheless, she was paid less than her white peers, and passed over for a prestigious judicial appointment, as well as routine promotions. During this time Eunice became active in the Pan African Congress of the U.N. Over the years she served on a number of U.N. Committees devoted to improving the status of all women.

Eunice’s enduring legacy, however, it the fact that she spearheaded the legal strategy that led to the successful conviction of Lucky Luciano. Mr. Luciano was the first mafia figure to be successfully prosecuted for anything other than tax evasion. Eunice’s insight was that the mafia was heavily involved in the prostitution business. By following the money from street prostitution and flophouses to Mafia members and bosses, she was able to link Mr. Luciano to illegal activity, thereby securing a conviction.

Eunice carried her briefcase into an all white court, and impressed them with her attention to detail and her novel approach. For all women everywhere, Eunice blazed a professional and personal path that laid the foundation for today’s working women.

Lori LeachmanComment