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Carter, Rubin, 1937-2014

 Person

Rubin Carter was born on May 6, 1937, in Clifton, New Jersey, to Lloyd and Bertha Carter. At age 14, he was convicted of robbery and assault and sent to the Jamesburg Home for Boys in New Jersey, from which he escaped at age 17 to join the Army. There he took up boxing, and was discharged in 1956. A year later he was convicted of robbery and assault and spent four years in Trenton State Prison. He became a professional boxer on his release in 1961, narrowly losing the World Boxing Association middleweight championship in 1964. Carter and his friend John Artis were arrested in 1966 and charged with committing three murders at the Lafayette Bar in Paterson, New Jersey. Despite inconsistencies in testimony and conflicting evidence, Carter and Artis were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

While in prison, Carter published The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472 (1974). Musician Bob Dylan read the book and visited Carter in prison in 1975, leading to the composition of his song “Hurricane,” which raised public awareness of Carter and his case. The two identifying witnesses recanted their testimony, and in March 1976 the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the convictions of both Artis and Carter. At a second trial in December 1976, prosecutors argued that Carter and Artis were motivated by racial revenge, and they were again convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Carter and lead attorney Myron Beldock continued to appeal his conviction with the assistance of members of a Canadian commune. On November 7, 1985, Judge H. Lee Sarokin of the United States District Court in Newark overturned the second conviction and ruled that the prosecutors had withheld evidence and violated the defendants’ constitutional rights. Carter was released the next day after a bail hearing.

In 1988, Carter moved to Toronto, Canada. In addition to a career as a popular motivational speaker, he was the Executive Director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993-2004. He worked with the Innocence Project to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and founded Innocence International in 2004. His autobiography, Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom, written with Ken Klonsky, was published in 2011. Carter received numerous awards and honors, including honorary doctorates from Griffith University and York University (2005) and an honorary championship belt from the World Boxing Council (1993). In 1999, a movie was released based on Carter’s experiences starring Denzel Washington in the title role, The Hurricane.

Carter married Mae Thelma Basket in 1963, and they had two children, Theodora and Raheem. They were divorced in 1984. Carter was remarried in the 1990s to Canadian commune leader Lisa Peters, whom he later divorced. Carter died on April 20, 2014, in Toronto, of cancer.

Found in 14 Collections and/or Records:

Carter with Nelson Mandela, 2000

 Item — Box: 13
Call Number: MS226.006.013.00032
Scope and Contents: Photographs consist mainly of images of Carter with his friends, family, and colleagues. Photographs also document Carter’s homes, vacations, and events at which he appeared. There are a few photographs of Carter with well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, and Norman Jewison, and with exonerated prisoners. There are both prints and negatives in this series.
Dates: 2000

Carter with Nelson Mandela

 Digital Image
Dates: 2000

Lesra Martin, John Artis, Rubin Carter, Denzel Washington, and Cheryl Martin, 1999

 Item — Box: 13
Call Number: MS226.006.013.00031.00001
Scope and Contents: Photographs consist mainly of images of Carter with his friends, family, and colleagues. Photographs also document Carter’s homes, vacations, and events at which he appeared. There are a few photographs of Carter with well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, and Norman Jewison, and with exonerated prisoners. There are both prints and negatives in this series.
Dates: 1999

Myron Beldock Papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS212
Scope and Contents: This collection contains the Rubin Carter defense files. The bulk of the materials consist of legal files including copies of court transcripts, briefs, photographs, and witness statements; there is also a smaller body of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and handwritten notes. The “Defense File Drawers” contain materials dated from approximately 1966 to 1976, which largely have to do with Carter's 1976 trial. The “Cityside Archives” boxes date to approximately 1979 to 1986, and mainly...
Dates: 1966 -- 1986

Rubin Carter

 Digital Image
Dates: 1990 -- 2009

Rubin Carter, 1990 -- 2009

 Item — Box: 13
Call Number: MS226.006.013.00003.00002
Scope and Contents: Photographs consist mainly of images of Carter with his friends, family, and colleagues. Photographs also document Carter’s homes, vacations, and events at which he appeared. There are a few photographs of Carter with well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, and Norman Jewison, and with exonerated prisoners. There are both prints and negatives in this series.
Dates: 1990 -- 2009

Rubin Carter, boxing promotional photograph

 Digital Image
Dates: 1950 -- 1969

Rubin Carter, boxing promotional photograph, 1950 -- 1969

 Item — Box: 13
Call Number: MS226.006.013.00003.00001
Scope and Contents: Photographs consist mainly of images of Carter with his friends, family, and colleagues. Photographs also document Carter’s homes, vacations, and events at which he appeared. There are a few photographs of Carter with well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, and Norman Jewison, and with exonerated prisoners. There are both prints and negatives in this series.
Dates: 1950 -- 1969

Rubin Carter, headshot

 Digital Image
Dates: 1999