FAYETTE, Miss.—On a warm and humid afternoon, a host of family members and friends gathered inside Locust Grove Baptist Church to honor the legacy and contributions of a young man who impacted many during his short life. While they shared pleasant, reflective, and at times humorous memories of Rasheem Rayelle Carter, the underlying circumstances of what led to the 25-year-old’s death and who may be responsible was at the forefront in those who came to celebrate his life on Feb. 25.
What was also evident, is that this was no ordinary human being. “He had a lot of love and even the police is going to be here for him. Everybody loved him. He was 20 when he started the restaurant in downtown Fayette. Everybody here loved him. He was a good guy,” said Marquell Bridges, activist, and Carter family liaison. The small majority Black town of Fayette is situated in Jefferson County and located approximately 80 miles from the capital city of Jackson.
“Rasheem was an exceptional person with a good heart, a rare heart that wanted to see everybody win in his community. That’s why you see the love out here; you see the Elmer Geronimo Pratt Gun Club, the Southern Region Black Panthers, me with Building Bridges and his classmates,” Mr. Bridges told The Final Call.
Rasheem’s dismembered body was discovered in a wooded area a month after he disappeared in early October 2022 near Taylorsville, Mississippi, where he worked. Taylorsville, a majority White town, is a little over 100 miles from Fayette. Rasheem was able to communicate with his mother Tiffany Carter prior to disappearing and according to her, he had been looking for a ride back home after reportedly being kicked out of a hotel room he had been sharing with a co-worker.
His car had broken down earlier, so he was without transportation. According to Ms. Carter, her son sought help at the Taylorsville Police Station but was turned away (See Final Call Vol. 42 No. 19). Rasheem expressed fear to his mother prior to disappearing that there were three truckloads full of White men trying to harm him. Mr. Bridges stated that the FBI is now looking into the case.
Rasheem’s mother has exemplified a godly strength as she continues to fight to find out what happened to her son, explained Mr. Bridges. “She said this strength and what you see is not for her, it’s for everyone else. Every time I think about my child in this situation, I can’t even do it without breaking down. Just imagine a mother’s strength to not only stand firm but to do what needs to be done—make the calls, show up for the protests, talk to the FBI … just anything that needs to be done and show no fear in a situation where it’s very fearful. So, she’s amazing; just godly strength,” he added.
“We are seeking justice for Rasheem. We don’t know what has taken place over in Taylorville but we do know that something horrific took place. Family as you look around you have a full church and some are on the outside. We are here to support you. The Bible says, “you seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given, you knock and the door will open, you caste all your burdens unto me (God) and I will take care of you.” If you believe in them words, justice will be served, said Jefferson County Sheriff James E. Bailey, a friend of Rasheem’s during remarks.
During the service, emotions ran high as family members and classmates wiped away tears. Several resolutions and condolences were read including one presented by Rasheem’s classmates from Jefferson County High School class of 2015. They wore the colors of red and white to honor their fallen brother.
His friend and classmate Kayla Carpenter described Rasheem as the one that kept them together and described him as a faithful and dutiful classmate. He is the first of their classmates to die, she said. To honor his memory, the class of 2015 created the “Rasheem R. Carter, Greatest of All Time Memorial Scholarship Fund” in his honor that will be awarded to a high school senior who plans on opening their own business in Fayette. The Grieving Mothers and Fathers Organization also issued a resolution.
During his eulogy, Bishop Curtis Smith of Locust Grove Baptist Church admitted that when he was approached by Rasheem’s family he felt “somewhat honored” but he also felt “some type of way.”
“Brothers and sisters it is no secret that we live in a world where it seems as though certain people have certain rights that other people are not supposed to have. It’s been going on for a mighty long time,” said Bishop Smith. “We as a people, we’ve been marching for years and years trying to just get the right to exist in God’s world!”
A delegation from the Nation of Islam which included Student Minister Abram Muhammad of Jackson, Mississippi and Student Regional F.O.I. Captain Oliver Muhammad attended the service. After the ceremony, Student Captain Oliver greeted Ms. Carter and extended condolences and support on behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Rasheem Rayelle Carter was born October 28, 1996 to Tiffany Carter and Robert Frye Jr. and raised in Harriston, Mississippi and a 2015 graduate of Jefferson County High School. He played football, baseball and had a passion for music. Rasheem was also an entrepreneur and opened a seafood restaurant in Fayette called Callie’s Express.
At the time of his death, he was working to reopen the restaurant and had dreams of opening several more in Mississippi and other states. Rasheem is survived by his daughter Cali Ryelle Carter, his mother Tiffany Carter, his brother Christopher Carter, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a host of family and friends.