My Contribution: I was a prominent and successful Black attorney, the second in history following T. Morris Chester. I heard numerous early civil rights cases in Harrisburg and nationally. I was a founding trustee of the Forster Street YMCA and an early leader in the Niagara Movement and NAACP. W.E.B. Du Bois and other prominent national Black leaders served as pallbearers at my funeral.

My Legacy: I was a prominent figure of justice and equality in a city that was divided by the color line. I rewrote the state’s workers’ compensation law, fought for racial equality, and brought a nation- al activism to Dauphin County. My work as a leading advocate for civil rights and equity remain evident in the Harrisburg YMCA, the NAACP, and Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws. Although the Dauphin County Bar Association initially rejected my candidacy due to my race, I was posthumously admitted in 1994.

About Me: “During his 53 years as a lawyer in this city, Carter held a number of political appointments and places of importance on a number of commissions.” — The Evening News, March 24, 1947.


Full Name: William Justin Carter

Birth Date: May 28, 1866

Death Date: March 23, 1947

Place of Birth: Richmond, Virginia

Sex: Male

Race: Black (1900 Federal Census)

Places of Residence: Richmond, Virginia; Annapolis, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; 49 S. 14th Street and 1831 Market Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Arrived in Harrisburg in 1894; fought different cases on behalf of residents and businesses in the Eighth Ward, including the prominent Civil Rights case of Frye’s hotel transfer during the demolition of the Eighth Ward; member of Capital Street Presbyterian Church.

Family Members: Father: Edmond Cart. Mother: Elizabeth Reyes. Spouse: Elizabeth Carter. Children: Howard A. Carter, W. Justin Carter, Jr., and Thaddeus Carter.

Education: Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (Teaching Degree); Howard University School of Law, 1894.

Occupations: Teacher. Lawyer. Assistant District Attorney for Dauphin County. Legal Counsel for State Unemployment Compensation Bureau. Secretary for Lieutenant Governor E.E. Beidelman.

Church Membership: Capital Street Presbyterian Church (trustee)

Activism: NAACP Committee of 100l Forster Street YMCA (Board of Governors); American Academy of Social and Political Sciences; National Geographic Society; Chosen Friends Lodge; Omega Psi Phi fraternity; Howard University (trustee); Berean Secretarial School (trustee); London Universal Races Congress (representative, 1911); Workingmen’s Social and Protective Association (founder).

Connections: C. Sylvester Jackson, George H. Imes, W. Justin Carter, Jr., W. Arthur Carter, James Auter, Theordore Frye, Joshua Robbin Bennett.