New York City, NY

The Courage of Eunice Hunton Carter and How She Helped to Convict Lucky Luciano

Herbie J Pilato

According to journalist Tim Ott and, "In 1935, Charles 'Lucky' Luciano was sitting pretty as the de facto head of the 'Commission,' a powerful syndicate of New York City's five largest organized crime families."

As Ott continues to report, "Luciano had forged a working peace between the families and become immensely wealthy through the Mob’s long reach into drug dealing, loan sharking, lotteries, and other illegal activities. And he managed to do all this while keeping his name out of the headlines, as the press was then focused on the actions of fellow gangster Dutch Schultz."

"All that would change in a year's time," Ott notes. "Although Luciano managed to fend off threats from rivals and authorities to that point, his luck ran dry when he came up against the trailblazing Black lawyer Eunice Hunton Carter."

As recounted in the 2018 book Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster, Carter was born in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia, a few years before a 1906 race riot drove the family to Brooklyn, New York, observes Ott. "Carter enjoyed a relatively privileged upbringing as part of a prominent family: Her father, William Alphaeus Hunton, was an international secretary for the YMCA, and her mother, Addie Waites Hunton, was known as an activist and organizer for the YWCA and NAACP."

"After enrolling at Smith College in 1917," Ott adds, "...Carter became just the second woman to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree from the school within four years. She became a writer, social worker, and political campaigner, and cemented her place in Harlem’s high society through her marriage to dentist Lisle Carter. In 1932, she became just the second Black female graduate of Fordham Law School."

As Ott concludes, "Carter struggled to get a private practice off the ground and wound up as a volunteer assistant in New York City's Women's Courts. But things were soon looking up for her career: She accepted the Republican nomination for a state assembly seat in 1934. And although she lost that race, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her secretary of his Commission on Conditions in Harlem in the spring of 1935."

To read more about Eunice Hunton Carter, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including the newly-published CONNERY, SEAN CONNERY biography, the revised BIONIC BOOK, RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, and more. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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