Judith Ann Carter Horton was inducted into the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame on Friday, September 28, at the Eighth Annual Hall of Fame Ceremony and Banquet held in the Oklahoma History Center.
Two of her great-granddaughters, Judge Judith Warren Hawkins and Dr. Juanita Warren Buddy, received the award in her honor. Suzette Chang, Director of the Guthrie Public Library, Story Teller Cynthia Calloway and Evelyn Nephew with the Friends of the Excelsior Library were among the banquet attendees.
Judith Ann Carter, a former Guthrie educator, was born in Wright City, Missouri on May 17, 1866. She attended school only three months of the year as a child because her father considered education a foolish and unnecessary activity. At the age of thirteen, she left home and hired herself out as a family servant to secure an education. She was conditionally accepted into Oberlin Academy College in 1884 and overcame many hardships there. On June 3, 1891, she delivered her graduation oration and received a degree in Classical Studies, vowing that someday she would accomplish what no other Negro had ever attempted.
In 1892, Carter was hired in Oklahoma Territory as the principal of the ‘colored schools’ in Guthrie, where she thrived and is credited with naming the newly built school, Lincoln. Carter married Daniel Horton, also a school administrator, two years later.
When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the leaders adopted the legislation of “separate but equal” in all facilities. Mr. Horton applied for membership to the local iconic Carnegie Library but was denied that same year. With this denial of membership, the couple realized the time had come for Carter to carry out her personal oath “to accomplish what no other Negro woman had ever attempted.”
She immediately set out to establish a library for African Americans in Oklahoma with the assistance of the Excelsior Women’s Club and Judge Perkins.
The Excelsior Library, the first library for African Americans in the southwest, opened it’s doors in Guthrie in 1955. Horton served as librarian for the next eleven years. Today, the Friends of the Excelsior Library Foundation aim to preserve the legacy Carter began as they raise funds to restore and reopen the historically significant library.
During the her years in Oklahoma, Carter also founded the Women’s Excelsior Club, the Westside Warner Congregational Church, and assisted in the establishment of the State Training School for Boys in Boley, Oklahoma. She also taught Latin and English courses at Faver High School and helped establish a home for delinquent girls in Taft, Oklahoma. Horton was appointed to serve on the board of Regents for African American Orphans in 1923.