Eunice Hunton Carter was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to William Alphaeus Sr. and Addie Waite Hunton on July 16, 1899. The family would flee to Brooklyn, New York when Eunice was five in response to the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906. Eunice Hunton Carter graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, with a B.A. and an M.A. in 1921.
She met then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, who became her trusted advisor while writing her master’s thesis at Smith College. Carter worked as a social worker after graduating in 1921 and married dentist Lyle Carter in 1924. She began studying law at Fordham University a few years after her son was born. Then, in 1934, she became the first African-American woman to be admitted to the New York State Bar.
Carter first joined politics in 1934, when she was elected to the State Assembly from New York’s 19th District by the Republican Party. Carter was the first African-American to get the Republican presidential nomination. Her campaign emphasized on the need to lower the pension age limit, ensure tenement housing compliance with legal norms, and keep unemployment insurance in place. Carter was likewise against racial discrimination in government jobs. Carter would lose by 1,600 votes in the election.
After the 1935 riots in Harlem, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed her secretary on the Committee on Conditions in Harlem. In 1935, Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey named Carter as his deputy assistant in the greatest organized crime prosecution in US history at the time.
“Carter provided the essential legal strategy in convicting Charles “Lucky” Luciano, the most important Mafia crime boss in New York City by marshaling a massive assault on organized prostitution in New York City. Authorities raided 200 brothels to gain testimony against Luciano which eventually came from three sex workers. At the time, this was the largest organized crime prosecution in U.S. history. Carter served as Assistant District Attorney of New York County for ten years. In 1938, Carter was named to Dewey’s staff to lead the Abandonment Bureau of Women’s Courts. In 1945, she entered private practice and connected her work with the National Council of Negro Women to international issues.
In 1947, Carter was one of fifteen American women invited to attend the first International Assembly on Women in Paris, to discuss “human and educational problems affecting peace and freedom.” While there, Carter and Madame Simone Sohier-Brunard, of Belgium, the President of the Union of Colonial Women, compared conditions in African colonies with the status of African Americans in the United States. She was also a consultant to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations’ International Council of Women.”