Women Of Black History: 5 Things To Know About Pioneering Lawyer Eunice Carter

February 15, 2017  |  

You know that you’re a force to be reckoned with when your work helps to take down major figures in the mob. While she initially studied, got degrees in and made a career of social work for a few years, Eunice Roberta Hunton Carter (1899-1970) had a change of heart and decided to study law. The courts would never be the same. Check out five things you should know about pioneering lawyer Eunice Carter.

She Was a Woman of Many Firsts

After switching things up from social work to studying law, Eunice ended up becoming the first Black woman to receive a law degree from New York City’s Fordham University. Following her success with the bar exam in 1933, Eunice would eventually go on to become New York’s first Black woman assistant district attorney.

A Theory Helped Her Take Down the Mob

With her work as a Women’s Court prosecutor in the ’30s, which put her in contact with women who had a number of prostitution cases on them, she noticed a pattern. When women would get arrested, they seemed to call the same lawyers, bondsmen and have the same alibis. She came to the conclusion that these prostitutes were connected to the mob. Her theory proved to be correct. She became assistant district attorney when she brought that theory to then-special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey.
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She Had a Major Role in the Fall of Lucky Luciano

Eunice helped Dewey put together a pretty solid case against the mob that led directly to big-time boss Lucky Luciano. His cronies were helping prostitutes out in exchange for 50 percent of their profits.  She encouraged her boss to prosecute the case. Luciano ended up being convicted and went to prison for 10 years before eventually being deported to Italy. This was said to be the beginning of the end for organized crime in many ways, but it was just the start for Dewey. He became pretty famous and he even tried to run for president twice. Eunice’s career also flourished, as she was appointed head of the D.A.’s Special Sessions Bureau, handling thousands of cases before moving forward with her own private practice.

She Was Quite the Advocate for Women

Eunice also found the time to become active in the United Nations, working on committees that fought to improve the status of women. If that’s not enough pro-woman work for you, Eunice also was on the executive committee of the International Council of Women, which had representatives from all over the world, worked on the Y.W.C.A., and on the U.S. National Council of Negro Women.

All She Knew Was Black Excellence

Eunice came from and stayed around pretty intelligent and groundbreaking people. Her father, William Hunton, Sr., was reportedly the founder of the black division of the Y.M.C.A., her mother, Addie Waites Hunton, was known for her work with the NAACP and YMCA, and was even one of two women sent to France during World War I to aid African-American servicemen. Her grandfather, Stanton Hunton, bought his freedom before the Civil War. Her brother, W. Alphaeus Hunton, Jr., was an author and activist known for his work with the Council on African Affairs. Oh, and her husband, Lisle Carter, Sr., was one of the first Black dentists in the state of New York.

 

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