Continuing Research

Sarah E. Carter

In 1974 Sarah E. Carter became the first, and thus far, the only African American female member of the Anne Arundel County, Maryland Council. Sarah served two four-year terms as a county council member.

Sarah E. Carter

Sarah E. Carter

One of the council’s first three women, Carter, who ran for county council at the urging of other council members, described herself as being “always aggressive”. Former councilwoman, Delegate Virginia P. Clagett, described Mrs. Carter as “a strong, caring voice for her constituents”, and ready to “break down barriers.”

A native of Baltimore, Sarah Evelyn Howard grew up in Cedar Hill, a wooded area where the only neighbors were a white family with children who became her playmates. Sarah graduated from Douglass High School in Baltimore in the 1930s and later attended Anne Arundel Community College. In the 1940 census, she was married to James Spriggs and had two children. In September 1952 she married William Carter and created a large, loving family.

Her trend toward politics began when she attempted to get better medical care for her oldest child. At that time, she could not use the public health center in Brooklyn Park, so she created her own Well Baby Clinic in Brooklyn Park for Black women and children. She also created more school opportunities for Black children in the Cedar Hill area when she and “her parents bought and rehabilitated a burned-out school to provide more classrooms for Black children in the neighborhood.”

In the ensuing years, when Carter’s fourth child was unable to attend kindergarten due to segregation and tuition, she joined with a group of white women who persuaded the superintendent of schools to start public kindergarten.

For twelve years before she decided to run for council, Carter worked in politics by registering Black voters and working at the polls. In 1974 she won the Democratic primary election of the County Council by thirteen votes. She was recognized as a dependable, compassionate, councilwoman who became known as a “battling environmentalist.”

Carter served two 4-year terms on the County Council; and by the end of her second term, she was well respected by colleagues and constituents.

Mrs. Sarah Carter died on January 20, 1998, in Dover, Delaware, survived by five sons and three daughters.

Audio: Sarah E. Carter

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