Asa Earl Carter

Asa Earl Carter

Asa Earl Carter was born in Alabama in 1925. He enlisted in the United States Navy during the Second World War and afterwards attended the the University of Colorado. This was followed by work as a radio announcer in Denver.

In 1954 Carter moved to Birmingham, Alabama to work on a new radio show. However, after complaints from listeners about his anti-Jewish views, he was sacked by his employers.

Carter became leader of the Alabama Citizens' Council but later formed his own Ku Klux Klan terrorist organization and began publishing a racist broadsheet, The Southerner , with Jessie Mabry. Over an 18 month period Carter's followers took part in the stoning of Autherine Lucy when she attempted to register as a student at the University of Alabama, assaulted Nat King Cole while performing on a Birmingham stage, beat civil rights leader Fred Shuttleworth and stabbed his wife, and castrated Edward Aaron, a 34 year old African American from Barbour County. Four of Carter's men, including Mabry, were found guilty of the attack on Aaron and were sentenced to twenty years.

In 1958 George Wallace failed in his bid to become the Democratic Party candidate to become governor of Alabama. His main rival, John Patterson, Alabama's Attorney General, was an outspoken segregationist who had become a popular hero with white racists by using the state courts to declare the NAACP in Alabama an illegal organization. Patterson was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and easily defeated Wallace.

After the election Patterson admitted that: "The primary reason I beat him (Wallace) was because he was considered soft on the race question." George Wallace agreed and decided to drop his support for integration and was quoted as saying: "no other son-of-abitch will ever out-****** me again". One of his solutions to this problem was to recruit Carter as his main speechwriter for the 1962 campaign. This included the slogan: "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"

Carter worked with Wallace in the 1966 and 1968 elections but in 1970 he was a candidate himself. However, he only won 15,000 votes and was easily beaten by Wallace.

Using the name Forrest Carter, he wrote two successful novels, Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and The Education of Little Tree (1976).

Asa Earl Carter died of a heart attack in 1979.

Primary Sources

(1) On 2nd September, 1957, Bart Floyd and five other members of the Ku Klux Klan, castrated Edward Aaron, a 34 year old African American from Barbour County, Alabama. William Bradford Huie's exposure of this Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony first appeared in Time Magazine. He later wrote about the case in Three Lives for Mississippi (1964)

Two of the Klansman, Miller and Griffin, confessed, became state's witnesses, testified against the other four, and were given suspended sentences. Mabry, Floyd, Pritchett, and McCullough pleaded not guilty because, as members of the Klan and the Citizens Council, they did not believe an all-white, all-male jury would convict them.

Mabry, Floyd, Pritchett, and McCullough were tried separately, and the state's case was the same against each of them. After Aaron told his story, the women left the courtroom and Aaron partially undressed and stood before the jury. Miller and Griffin then testified, along with the doctors and the police. None of the defendants denied the atrocity; they only presented "character witnesses", including preachers. The verdicts were prompt in each case: guilty and twenty years.

In January 1963, however, with Klan support a hate-filled little man named George Wallace became governor of Alabama. The head of the Klans in Alabama and Mississippi, Robert Shelton, boasted that the Klan had supplied Wallace's "margin of victory". It was then assumed throughout Alabama and Mississippi that as soon as Wallace made his first appointment to the parole board, the four Klansman would be paroled.

Wallace's first appointee to the parole board took office on July 11, 1963. Two weeks later, on July 25, 1963, the board reversed its 1960 position and voted unanimously not to require the four Klansman to serve one third of their sentences before parole.

(2) Diane McWhorter, People Magazine (28th October, 1991)

Asa Carter, raised on his parents' Alabama farm was a leader of the South's scabrous racist fringe in the '50's and ghostwriter of Alabama Governor George Wallace's most memorable segregationist creeds.

In 1954, at 29, Asa moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and - as 'Ace' Carter - began peddling anti-Communist conspiracy theories on a new radio show. But city fathers soon drummed him off

the air after one diatribe took an anti-Semitic turn. Carter then installed by some local businessmen as a leader of the White Citizens Council, conceived as a middle-class alternative to the rough and redneck Klan.

Asa Carter's literary efforts were confined to a racist broadsheet, The Southerner, which he co-edited with Jesse Mabry. In September 1957, Mabry and five Klan brothers abducted a black man named Edward Aaron in the cinder-block clubhouse - decorated with posters of Asa Carter's campaign for city commissioner - pinned him to the floor and used a razor blade to slice off his scrotum, which was preserved as a souvenir in a paper cup.