cover image Hodding Carter: The Reconstruction of a Racist

Hodding Carter: The Reconstruction of a Racist

Ann Waldron. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $23.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-945575-38-2

Former Southern journalist Waldron provides a solid, though unstylish, biography of Hodding Carter (1907-1972), the courageous editor of the Greenville Delta Democrat-Times , Mississippi's most liberal newspaper during the Civil Rights era. Using a wealth of sources, Waldron ( Close Connections: Caroline Gordon and the Southern Renaissance ) documents the Lousiana-born Carter's evolution from teenage bigot to Huey Long opponent and his role, beginning in 1935, as editor of the incorruptible newspaper funded in part by Greenville leading light William Alexander Percy (adoptive father of novelist Walker Percy). Carter strained local mores by criticizing lynching and printing a photograph of black Olympian Jesse Owens; he argued in articles and books that Southern whites, not blacks or Northerners, had to change themselves. A 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winner for editorial writing, Carter crusaded for racial equality, but hedged on condemning segregation; after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v . Board of Education decision, he attacked intransigent Citizens' Councils, but supported only gradual integration. While Waldron sympathetically describes Carter's delicate position, she offers little psychological insight into his character. (June)