Asa Carter was a speechwriter for Alabama Governor George Wallace. He penned one of the most infamous speeches of the era… Wallace’s Segregation Now, Segregation Forever address. Forrest Carter was a Cherokee writer who grew up in Tennessee. His autobiography, The Education of Little Tree, is a beloved classic that has sold millions of copies around the world. But these two men shared a secret.
Update: We produced a new (narrated) version of this story for This American Life. Listen to it here.
Today, The Education of Little Tree is sold as an “autobiographical novel” by Forrest Carter. Readers won’t find any mention of Asa Carter in its pages.
Reporter Wayne Greenhaw, the first person to expose Carter, died in 2012.
The music that ends this piece is by banjo player Adam Hurt. Also featured in the story: Tennessee, by interviewee Ron Taylor, with lyrics by Asa Carter.
Special thanks to Douglas Newman, Laura Browder, Marco Ricci, and Michael Fix, who produced the film documentary, The Reconstruction of Asa Carter.