The lonesome death of Hattie Carroll


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Jun 13, 2009
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The lonesome death of Hattie Carroll
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The lyrics are a commentary on the racism of the 1960s, which valued a black woman's life so lightly. In 1963 when Hattie Carroll was killed, Charles County was still strictly segregated by race in public facilities such as restaurants, churches, theaters, doctor's offices, buses, and the county fair. The schools of Charles County were not integrated until 1967.

The main incident of the song took place in the early hours of February 9, 1963, at the white tie Spinsters' Ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. Using a toy cane, Zantzinger drunkenly assaulted at least three of the Emerson Hotel workers: a bellboy, a waitress, and — at about 1:30 in the morning of the 9th — Carroll, a barmaid. In addition to her work at the hotel, Hattie Carroll, at 51, was the mother of eleven children and president of a black social club.[2] A news report of Zantzinger's death mentions that Hattie was the mother of eleven children even though the song says ten.[3] [4]

Already drunk before he got to the Emerson Hotel that night, Zantzinger, 24 years old and 6'2",[1] had assaulted employees at Eager House, a prestigious Baltimore restaurant, with the same cane.[2] The cane was a 25-cent toy.[1] At the Spinsters' Ball, he called a 30-year-old waitress a "nigger" and hit her with the cane; she fled the room in tears.[2] Moments later, after ordering a bourbon that Carroll didn't bring immediately, Zantzinger cursed at her, called her a "ni**er" also,[1] then "you black son of a bitch," and struck her on the shoulder and across the head with the cane. In the words of the court notes: " He asked for a drink and called her 'a black bitch', and ' black s.o.b'. She replied, 'Just a moment' and started to prepare his drink. After a delay of perhaps a minute, he complained about her being slow and struck her a hard blow on her shoulder about half-way between the point of her shoulder and her neck." She handed him his drink.[5] After striking Carroll, he attacked his own wife, knocking her to the ground[2] and hitting her with his shoe.[1]

Very soon, within five minutes from the time of the blow, she leaned heavily against the barmaid next to her and complained of feeling ill. Carroll told co-workers, "I feel deathly ill, that man has upset me so." The barmaid and another helped her to the kitchen. Her arm became numb, her speech thick. She collapsed and was hospitalized. Hattie Carroll died eight hours after the assault.[2] Her autopsy showed hardened arteries, an enlarged heart, and high blood pressure. A spinal tap confirmed brain hemorrhage as the cause of death. She died 9a.m. February 9, 1963.

Zantzinger was initially charged with murder. His defense was that he had been extremely drunk,[2] and he admitted to no memory of the attack. His charge was reduced to manslaughter and assault, based on the likelihood that it was her stress reaction to his verbal and physical abuse led to the intracranial bleeding, rather than blunt-force trauma from the blow that left no lasting mark. On August 28, Zantzinger was convicted of both charges and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

As Always [MAD]NO F***ing JUSTICE[/MAD] NJ