African American Studies


INTERVIEWER: Claude Mangum, Oneka LaBennett, Mark Naison

INTERVIEWEE: Anthony “Doc” Carter

SUMMARY BY: Patrick O’Donnell

Anthony “Doc” Carter is a graduate of Fordham University and is the vice-president of the Johnson and Johnson Corporation. He was born 11/3/54 in the Bronx and was the eighth of ten children. His father, born in Ohio, was of Haitian descent, and his mother, a Virginia native, had Blackfoot ancestry. His father worked as a unionized construction worker and mason who died in service in 1963, and his mother died in 1962 of kidney failure. As a result, Carter and his siblings were raised by various aunts, uncles, and godparents—they were split up and did not reconnect until they were adults. Before his parents died, Carter remembers a happy and close family life. The Carter family was Catholic and took education very seriously. Anthony recalls that his mother cooked traditional southern American food, including fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, etc. Most tenants in his building on Prospect Ave were white. The children played games in the street and did a bit of doo-wop singing. In addition to doo-wopping, Anthony learned how to play African drums from some Prospect Park “pan-Africanist” drummers, a hobby which he still pursues today. He grew up during the gang era in the Bronx, and he found it useful to have four tough older brothers, even though he felt safe in his neighborhood, for the most part. Carter and his siblings attended St. Anthony of Padua school, which was a Catholic school run by nuns. He found it a nurturing, positive, and racially-mixed environment: he was a good student and was very engaged in the life of the school. He made friends with white, black, and Latino fellow students. After his parents had died, Carter was raised by his godmother, but in retrospect he thinks it would have been better if the children had all been raised in an orphanage, since they would have been raised together. Unfortunately, Carter recalls his time with his godmother as “the worst time of his life” because she was quick to beat him for minor infractions, and she was very anti-white. He was largely unaware of the happenings and importance of the Civil Rights movement, even though his godmother was a follower of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He attended St. Raymond’s High School for boys—it was a mostly white school, and it was during these days that he experienced explicit racial discrimination for the first time. He was aware of the urban blight and burning buildings in the Bronx during the 60’s and 70’s, and he was also aware of the increasing heroin problem during this time. After a rigorous high school program initiated by the then-archbishop, Carter enrolled at Fordham. He was very involved—he played basketball, worked at WFUV, worked for the newspaper, and belonged to the Society for African Leadership. He was a vocal supporter of black equality, and he had several personal and professional relationships with students and teachers which had a great impact on his development. Carter describes Fordham as a “heaven” that presented a wide variety of opportunities which were previously unavailable to him, and the interview panel spends a good deal of time on Fordham-related anecdotes and memories that would be very useful to anyone interested in the course of African-American relations and integration at Fordham and in the Bronx during the 60’s and 70’s.

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