Honoring the Legacy of the Carters

Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter helped to build many houses for those in need.

This President’s Day let’s investigate President Jimmy and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. First Lady Carter passed away recently on November 19, 2023. President Carter is our oldest living president. He is 98 years old. Let’s honor the lives and legacy of the Carters. 

The Carters both came from a rural background in Georgia. After college, the two married and President Carter became an officer in the US Navy. They returned to the Carter’s peanut farm after the death of Jimmy’s father. Soon, Jimmy Carter entered politics. Rosalynn helped with strategy and campaigning as Jimmy became a state senator, governor, and then president from 1977 to 1980.  

As President, Carter was humble. He rarely used his formal name, James Earl Carter, Jr. He went by “Jimmy” instead. He often wore jeans instead of suits. In speeches, he emphasized peace, not power. President Carter said that government should be “compassionate and competent.” He believed that the government should help end suffering by responding to people’s needs. He negotiated peace agreements between countries in conflict, including Egypt and Israel. He also campaigned for human rights, championed global health causes, and promoted economic development around the world. 

As First Lady, Rosalynn worked as an advisor for the president. She used her position to bring attention to the performing arts. She worked hard to support mental health. She served as Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. She helped pass the Mental Health Act of 1980.  

While Jimmy Carter only served as President of the United States for one term, he and Rosalynn remained active in public life helping others. In 1982, they founded the Carter Center in Atlanta. It is an organization dedicated to improving people’s lives. It helps monitor elections, resolve conflict, and fight poverty. The Carters also found time to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. This group builds homes for people in need. Even in old age, the Carters often picked up a hammer and set to work. Together, Jimmy and Rosalynn built around 5,000 homes. Today Americans honor the Carters as great humanitarians [people who work to end the suffering of others].  

What Do You Think? The Carters worked to help others. How can you work to help other people? 

Photo Credits: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images