The Sir John and Lady Sara Lou Carter Memorial Scholarship
In memory of Sir John and Lady Sara Lou Carter and in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Sir John’s birth in 1919, the Carter family is very pleased to partner with SAGE to raise funds to support a full scholarship to the University of Guyana. John and Sara were active in the Guyanese community throughout their lives, including John’s Ambassadorial appointments and Sara’s numerous charitable activities. We are inspired to provide more information about their very full and meaningful lives below.
With a goal to raise $8,000 to support the full cost of a student’s bachelor’s degree program, please consider donating today!
Sir John Carter, QC, CCH, OR
John Gregorio Carter was born on January 27, 1919 at Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara, Guyana. He was the youngest of five children and the only son of Kemp Ridley Carter and Gertrude Beatrice Carter (born Humphrey). He grew up in Kitty and was educated at Comenius Moravian Elementary School in Georgetown. In 1931, John entered Queen’s College in Georgetown where he excelled academically and played for the school’s cricket and soccer teams. In 1937, he distinguished himself by earning a Queen’s College scholarship. After his secondary education, John journeyed to England and attended the University of London where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree. He was also a member of Middle Temple’s Inn of Court. When he sat for his Bar finals, he emerged in second place with Honors from among all of the students of the Commonwealth.
Upon his return home to Guyana in 1945 at the end of the Second World War, John established a very successful law practice on Croal Street, specializing in criminal, civil, family and real estate law. While carrying on a busy law practice, John was elected to the Legislature of Guyana in 1948, then still British Guiana, becoming the youngest member of the National Legislature at the age of 29. In 1952, John launched his own political party, the United Democratic Party (UDP). During this time, he was also a driving force behind the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP). In 1958, the UDP merged with the People’s National Congress (PNC). After the merger, John became the first Chairman of the PNC. In 1962, he became a Queen’s Counsel (QC) and was admitted to the Inner Bar of the Supreme Court of Guyana. In that same year, he was appointed Pro-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, a post which he held until 1966 when Guyana gained its independence from Britain.
In 1966, John embarked upon his long and distinguished diplomatic career becoming Guyana’s first Ambassador to the United States. That same year, at the age of 47, he was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England, where he gained the title of Sir John Carter. Sir John was also appointed as Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as High Commissioner to Canada, posts which he held from 1966 to 1970. In 1968, he also served as the Vice Chairman of the General Assembly of the United Nations during its Twenty-Third Session.
In 1970, Sir John was appointed as the High Commissioner to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom, with concurrent accreditations as Ambassador to Yugoslavia, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Soviet Union, the Netherlands, Sweden, India and Austria. In 1976, he served as the Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China with concurrent accreditations as Ambassador to Japan. He also served as a delegate and Head of Special Missions to Australia, Singapore, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Argentina and Uruguay. In 1981, he served as the High Commissioner to Jamaica until 1983 when he retired from the diplomatic corps. Sir John received numerous honors and awards including Guyana’s Cacique Crown of Honor and Guyana’s Order of Roraima. He was also inducted as an Arcon of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Epsilon Boule, in Washington DC.
Lady Sara Lou Carter
Sara Lou Harris Carter was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on the 4th of July, 1923, to proud parents James and Esther Harris. She was the eldest sister to Rhina, Esther and James W. Harris, Jr. Sara Lou graduated with a B.A. from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1943. According to a 1974 article written by Dyl Bishop in Ebony Magazine, her classmates said, “We prophesy that you, Sara Lou Harris, will become a successful high fashion model and the best hat mannequin in the industry.”
After pursuing her passion for teaching in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Sara Lou moved to New York City and became a leading model, radio and television personality as well as a lifelong humanitarian. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, she broke the color barrier several times, appearing as the first African American model in the New York buyers fashion show. She was featured as a “glamour girl” on Lucky Strike cigarette posters. She was one of the original twelve “Branford Models” of the Branford Modeling Agency, the first licensed African American modeling agency in the United States. Featured in Black Women in America, Sara Lou appeared on the cover of national black publications, including Jet, Ebony, Tan, Hue, and the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine at least thirty times over the course of her modeling career.
Sara Lou also excelled in singing, and acting. Among other things, she played the love interest in the Astor movie Rhythm in a Riff starring singer Billy Eckstine and featuring music by Dizzie Gillespie. In 1958, at the invitation of Beryl Pereira, Sara Lou traveled to Guyana to be part of a fashion extravaganza. She fell in love with Guyana, and it was there that she met her official escort and future husband, barrister John Carter. Sara Lou continued in radio with an interview program on Radio Demerara called “Sara’s Salon.” She organized numerous fashion shows and established a charm school for young girls in Guyana. She also planned and directed various entertainment fundraisers for numerous charities, helping to raise money for several organizations, including but not limited to, the Mahaica Hospital, a well-known leprosarium and the Archer Home Senior Center.
Throughout her life, Sara Lou worked tirelessly for the advancement of multiple charitable causes around the world. While in London, she was very active in assisting its young West Indian community, including those from the Moonshot Club, a community center for West Indian youth. She also produced shows at the Commonwealth Institute to raise funds to buy a “Sunshine Coach” for the mentally challenged children in Guyana, a cancer detection unit for the public hospital there, a prosthetic leg for a patient named “Suki” at Mahaica Hospital, and numerous other needed items. While in Beijing, China, she organized and participated in international cultural shows involving over fifty embassies as a fundraiser vehicle for many charities. In Jamaica, she organized and presented a fundraiser known as “Stars Over Kingston,” to raise funds for the physically challenged. She continued her numerous charitable works in Washington DC after John’s retirement in 1984.