Dr. Vertie L. Carter
Vertie L. Carter, historical trailblazer, was born in abject poverty October 19, 1923, in a two-room shack on a white man’s plantation. She walked five miles to the Negro one-room school, studied used books from the white school, lost her eyesight for a year at the age of nine, and raised pigs to graduate from Yerger High School in Hope—with honors. She received a B.S. Degree at AM&N College, an M.S. Degree at the University of Arkansas in Education, and her Ed.D. at the University of North Texas (Denton).
A highly sought-after doctoral candidate with offers from numerous colleges and universities, Dr. Carter chose to work at Philander Smith College because they needed her credentials for Teacher Certification. She established a Teacher Education Laboratory with personal funds, and led the college to accreditations by the North Central Association and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
In 1969, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller appointed Dr. Carter to the Arkansas Merit System Council to monitor Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) in state jobs; she was the First Black, First Woman, First Educator to do so. She was reappointed by Governors Dale Bumpers and David Pryor in 1972 and 1975. When she first arrive on the job, Dr. Carter discovered the Council operating under antiquated laws—discriminatory practices and procedures in testing, hiring, firing, promotions and appeals. Laws enacted by the General Assembly provided that the council operate under an “Act to create and establish a Merit System to control and Regulate Employment in services of the State of Arkansas. The purpose ensures all citizens of demonstrated capacity, ability, and training and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) to compete for services with the state of Arkansas.”
While working with the Arkansas Merit System Council Dr. Carter, who became the 2nd Vice-President of International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) to monitor national activity in EEO Action Programs in 13 states and the Canal Zone, and Vice-President of the Advisory Committee on Affirmative Action for several regions, approached her challenge with confidence.
Dr. Carter’s “RESOLVE” was to transform Equal Employment Opportunity into reality. Procrastination on embracing EEO laws was no longer an option. She resolved to monitor employers writing job descriptions to correspond with qualifications of pre-selected applicants, to integrate the Oral Review Board, and to close the gap between test scores of minorities and their white counterparts.
She obtained permission to select two African Americans to add to the Oral Review Board; Elijah Coleman, Civil Rights Proponent and Principal of Townsend Park High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and Mrs. Irene Childs, ·Social Studies teacher at Booker Jr. High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Dr. Carter published the book How to Get a Career Job which contained sample test items and tips on taking Employment Test. She taught test seminars to applicants for state jobs, attended hearings on firings and appeals, participating wherever warranted. The concerted efforts of Dr. Carter had far-reaching implications for discrimination throughout the nation; her “RESOLVE” to transform and bring Arkansas’s Merit System operation into compliance with federal and state laws had become a reality.