William Hodding Carter, II (February 3, 1907 - April 4, 1972) was a prominent Southern U.S. progressive journalist and author. Carter was born in Hammond, the largest community in Tangipahoa Parish, in southeastern Louisiana, to William Hodding Carter, I (1881–1955), and the former Irma Dutartre.
Carter died in Greenville of a heart attack at the age of sixty-five. He is interred in the Greenville Cemetery.
With his wife, former Betty Werlein (1910–2000) of New Orleans, Carter founded the Hammond Daily Courier, in 1932. The paper was noted for its opposition to popular Louisiana Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr., but its support for the national Democratic Party.
In 1939, Carter moved to Greenville, Mississippi, a Mississippi River delta city and the seat of Washington County, where he launched his successful Greenville Delta Democrat-Times, a newspaper later published, first, by his oldest son, William Hodding Carter, III, and, currently, by his second son, Philip Dutartre Carter (born 1939). He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for his editorials, in particular a series lambasting the ill-treatment of Japanese-American (Nisei) soldiers returning from World War II. He was a professor for a single semester at Tulane.
Carter wrote a caustic article for Look magazine which detailed the menacing spread of a chapter of the White Citizens' Council. The article was attacked on the floor of the Mississippi House of Representatives as a, "Willful lie by a nigger-loving editor." Carter responded in a front-page editorial:
By vote of 89 to 19, the Mississippi House of Representatives has resolved the editor of this newspaper into a liar because of an article I wrote. If this charge were true, it would make me well qualified to serve in that body. It is not true. So to even things up, I hereby resolve by a vote of one to nothing that there are eighty-nine liars in the state legislature.
Carter was strongly opposed to the Munich Conference which ceded Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler. Carter rushed into World War II service. While stationed at Camp Balding in Florida, he lost the sight in his right eye during a training exercise. He thereafter served in the Intelligence Division and continued his journalistic activities by editing the Middle East division of Yank and Stars and Stripes in Cairo, Egypt, and writing three books.
Late in life, Carter attended the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in 1965.
On his way home on a plane Carter found out about Kennedy's death and was devastated. A passenger on the plane said, "Well, we got that son-of-a-bitch, didn't we?" Carter responded, "Who are you talking about?" The passenger said, "You know damn well who I'm talking about", to which Carter responded by saying "You're just a son-of-a-bitch", and then punching the passenger in the mouth.
Ann Waldron, in her book Hodding Carter: The Reconstruction of a Racist makes the case that Carter crusaded for racial equality, but hedged on condemning segregation and after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, he attacked intransigent White Citizens' Council, but supported only gradual integration.
In defense of Carter, Claude Sitton, in a review of Waldron's book in the New York Times says, "[R]eaders of today will ask how an editor who opposed enactment of a federal antilynching law as unnecessary and public school desegregation in Mississippi as unwise can be called a champion of racial justice. The answer, which she gives in the book's introduction, lies in the context of the times. . . . Absent his efforts and those of other Southern editors of courage and like mind, change would have come far more slowly and at far greater cost.
African Americans Confront Lynching: Strategies of Resistance from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Era. This Mob Will Surely Take My Life: Lynchings in the Carolinas.(Book review)
Mar 22, 2011; African Americans Confront Lynching: Strategies of Resistance from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Era. By Christopher Waldrep...