Jimmy Carter's record on human rights will endure; show some love

March 19, 2019

Former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, reminds me of the energizer bunny - he just keeps on going and going and going.  Pump-a-rum. His drum keeps booming.

 

Born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Ga., Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States, from 1976 to 1981. He is well known for including women and minorities in his cabinet.

 

Graduating high school in 1977, I remember the newspaper photos of his huge, somewhat cheesy smile. And stories about his peanut farm on the evening news. He was a deacon at the Plains Baptist Church. Of course, who can forget the antics of his scandalous brother? Billy Beer was brewed in the United States in 1977.

 

I remember stories about his wife, Rosalynn. From 1977 to 1978, she served as the honorary chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. In 1994, she published her autobiography, First Lady from Plains. And, she is a lady.

 

The Carter couple will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary in 2019. Shazam! 

 

His spunky mother, known as Miss Lillian to her neighbors, was a nurse, a Peace Corps volunteer, an unofficial ambassador and a supporter of civil rights and women's causes. In 1977, Lillian Carter became the first woman to receive the Covenant of Peace Prize of the Synagogue Council of America.

 

The hostage crisis in Iran happened during his presidential term. Critics and economists did not speak well of Carter’s decisions in the Oval Office. But, nobody can argue against his steadfast integrity and devoted family values.

 

Carter’s contributions to the world came after he left Washington D.C. Habitat for Humanity, the Nobel Peace Prize, traveling diplomat for conflict resolution and the author of numerous books. And, so much more.

 

His book, An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood (2001, Simon & Schuster), describes his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm, before the Civil Rights movement.

 

“Our two races, although inseparable in our daily lives, were kept apart by social custom, misinterpretation of Holy scriptures, and the unchallenged law of the land mandated by the United States Supreme Court,” he writes.

 

 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. (Carter Center photo.)

 

 

A man of sincerity, with compassion for humanity, his 2014 book, A Call to Action - Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, identifies sexual exploitation as one of the major human rights violations of our time.

 

Carter’s Human Rights Program works with Christian and Muslim leaders in Africa to explore how religious and traditional institutions can address the mistreatment of women and girls.

 

“Too often, religion has been wrongly used to justify gender-based human rights abuses, including child marriage, female genital cutting, domestic violence, wartime rape, and restricted access to education and economic and political participation. The Mobilizing Faith for Women and Girls Initiative aims to change that by instead putting religious and traditional leaders at the forefront of changing harmful social norms perpetrated in the name of religion,” he writes.

 

The Forum on Women, Religion, Violence, and Power can be accessed at https://forum.cartercenter.org/. It hosts regular live online conversations, bringing together and amplifying voices of those engaged in the struggle for human rights.

 

The Carter Center, located in Atlanta, is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization, founded in 1982 by Jimmy and his wife, Rosalynn. In partnership with Emory University, the center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.

 

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is open to the public and in the same location as the Carter Center. www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/museum/.

 

A road trip there, is on my bucket list!

 

A drum roll, please. The man with the heart for humanity is 95 years old. Let’s show appreciation to Jimmy before he meets his Maker. Shine on Jimmy - until you reach the Pearly Gates.

 

Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.

 

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator and therapist. She lives in Ohio.

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