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Lady Sara Lou Carter, July 4, 1923 - December 16, 2016

Sara-Lou Carter on the cover of Hue Magazine
Sara-Lou Carter on the cover of Jet Magazine
Sara-Lou Carter on the cover of Jet Magazine
Sara-Lou Carter in 2003

On Friday, December 16, 2016, Lady Sara Lou Carter of Bethesda, Maryland, died peacefully at the age of 93.

Carter was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on July 4, 1923, to James and Esther Harris. After graduating from Bennett College in North Carolina, she taught for a year before moving to New York, where she became a high fashion model breaking many racial barriers and paving the way for  women of color that walked the runway after her. Sara Lou Harris became the first African-American model in the New York Buyers fashion show and was one of the original 12 “Branford Lovelies” of the Branford Modeling Agency, the very first licensed modeling agency for black women. Sara Lou was able to change the perception of the African American woman from a servant to a glamour icon. She then went on to appear on the cover of dozens of magazines including Ebony, Jet and Tan.

In 1958 Sara Lou met John Carter a barrister from British Guiana (now Guyana) when she visited Guyana to participate in a fashion show. John and Sara Lou were married in 1960. In 1963 John Carter was appointed as counsel and in 1966 was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth.. Sara Lou Harris then became Lady Sara Lou Carter.  Lady Carter was the architect of Sara’s Salon, a popular interview program in Guyana in the sixties. She also established The Sara Lou Charm School for Girls in Guyana, teaching girls about  poise and proper etiquette.

In 1966, Sir John was appointed Guyana’s first ambassador to the U.S., UN and Canada and took up residence in Washington DC. Sir John and Lady Sara Lou Carter parented three children; Robyn, John and Brian.

Lady Carter worked tirelessly as a leading model, entertainer, educator and humanitarian. “I always wanted to make something of myself – to help my own people” said Sara Lou Harris in an interview for the New York Times in 1966.

Lady Sara Lou Carter is survived by her three children, several grandchildren, and close relatives.

A service will be held on Thursday, December 29 at 11 a.m., at the Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, 7001 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Interment at Gate of Heaven cemetery.

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