Daughter of the Black Elite Who Brought down a Gangster


A review of Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster, a book about the life of alumna Eunice Carter ’32, was published in the Washington Post.

Stephen L. Carter is an oddity among America’s black intellectuals. Though he is a best-selling novelist and widely admired constitutional scholar at Yale, his success, when compared with his not-so-distant relatives, may actually represent a type of generational decline. His ancestors were rock stars. His great-great-grandfather, upon earning his freedom, ventured into antebellum Mississippi (where free black men were routinely arrested and resold into slavery), purchased his brother’s freedom and then returned to Canada, where he helped John Brown plan his heroic uprising at Harpers Ferry. His great-grandmother was one of only three black women to serve alongside black American soldiers in Europe at the outbreak of World War I, later writing a book about about it that historians still reference today. And his grandmother, a stern and demanding woman named Eunice, worked as the only black female lawyer in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she contrived a plan that brought down the biggest mobster of 1930s New York, Salvatore “Lucky” Luciano. By these lights, Carter has some catching up to do. His book “Invisible,” a loving treatment of a remarkable clan, will shorten the distance.

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