Jimmy Carter on Civil Rights

President of the U.S., 1977-1981


Supports civil marriage equality

Source: The Huffington Post, "Jason Carter on Marriage Equality" , Aug 6, 2014

1978: Revoked status of Christian "academies" as separatist

In 1978, the 2nd year of the Carter presidency, the IRS announced that it would look into revoking the tax exemption of schools known as Christian "academies." These were high schools and elementary schools, many of which had sprung up in the South in reaction to integration of the public schools. The IRS made clear it was willing to effectively close such schools if it found they were functioning as thinly disguised instruments of white separatism. Many believers saw the IRS's move as an attempt by Washington to put private Bible schools out of business, thereby breaking the tacit truce between government and church that had more or less obtained since the Scopes trial.

That it could happen with the acquiescence of their seeming soul mate, President Jimmy Carter, added a poignant flavor of personal betrayal to the affair.

Source: The Case for Polarized Politics, by Jeff Bell, p. 26 , Mar 6, 2012

Most animosity toward Obama is really racism

When Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "You lie!" at Obama during an address to a joint session of Congress, his apology was accepted by the president, but that did not satisfy Jimmy Carter, who said Wilson's shout had been "based on racism. There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president." Carter returned to his theme the following day: "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shares the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans."

How did Carter know what was in Joe Wilson's heart? How did Carter know an "overwhelming portion" of those who had turned out for town hall meetings were motivated by "the fact that [Obama] is a black man, that he's African-American"?

Source: Suicide of a Superpower, by Pat Buchanan, p. 4-5 , Oct 18, 2011

1976: Defended ethnic enclaves formed by free association

In 1976, presidential candidate Jimmy Carter defended ethnic enclaves formed by free association and pledged not to use federal power to reengineer them: "I am not going to use the Federal Government's authority deliberately to circumvent the natural inclination of people to live in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods. I think it is good to maintain the homogeneity of neighborhoods if they've been established that way."

To define these communities Carter used the phrase "ethnic purity": "I have nothing against a community that's made up of people who are Polish or Czechoslovakian or French-Canadian, or black, who are trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods. This is a natural inclination on the part of the people."

What Carter said of neighborhoods is what Americans who oppose mass immigration say about their country: "This is a natural inclination on the part of the people."

Source: Suicide of a Superpower, by Pat Buchanan, p.227-228 , Oct 18, 2011

Most animosity against Obama is because he's black

Perhaps the most difficult and insulting attack Tea Partiers have had to endure is the charge of racism. Former president Jimmy Carter took this charge from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream. His comments arrived several days after the massive September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington in an attempt to explain the unpopularity of the president's health care proposal. "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American," Carter told "NBC Nightly News".

Do Democrats really believe that any person who disagrees with President Obama's policies is inherently racist? Of course they don't, but it's a great way to change the subject.

President Carter obviously neglected to listen to any of the actual speakers at the event he targeted with his sweeping animus (including African American speakers).

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 83 , Aug 17, 2010

Jesus helped sinful lepers; so let's help those with HIV

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, have elevated homosexuality to a pinnacle of great importance among deviations from their increasingly narrow and rigid definition of their Christian faith.

A disquieting claim is that HIV/AIDS is God's punishment on those who have sinned and should be treated accordingly. Jesus had encounters with lepers, who were also looked upon as sinful, condemned by God, and capable of contaminating their neighbors. He set an example for us by reaching out to them, loving, healing, and forgiving them. The public condemnation and ridicule of gays has been increasingly promoted by a few demagogic religious leaders, and the political acceptance of this treatment tends to authenticate and encourage this discrimination.

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 66 , Sep 26, 2006

Jesus treated women as equal to men

Most Bible scholars acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures were written when male dominance prevailed in every aspect of life. Women were considered to be chattel.

There is one incontrovertible fact concerning the relationship between Jesus Christ and women: he treated them as equal to men. This dramatically differed from the prevailing custom of the times. Although the 4 Gospels were written by men, they never report any instance of Jesus condoning sexual discrimination or the implied subservience of women.

It is ironic that women are now welcomed into all major professions and other positions of leadership but are deprived of the right to serve Jesus Christ in positions of leadership as they did during his earthly ministry and in the early Christian churches.

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 87-90 , Sep 26, 2006

Childhood Civil War view: whites conquered; blacks liberated

There is a strong tie to the Civil War, or, as we called it, the War Between the States. Although I was born more than half a century after the war was over, it was a living reality in my life. I grew up in one of the families whose people could not forget that we had been conquered, while most of our neighbors were black people whose grandparents had been liberated in the same conflict. Our two races, although inseparable in our daily lives, were kept apart by social custom, misinterpreting of Holy Scriptures, and the unchallenged law of the land.

It seemed natural for white folks to cherish our Southern heritage and cling to our way of life. We were bound together by blood kinship as well as by lingering resentment against those who had defeated us. A frequent subject of discussion around my grandparents' homes was the damage the "damn Yankees" had done to the South during Reconstruction years.

Source: An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter, p. 17-18 , Dec 16, 2001

1930s South: elders resented Reconstruction; but not youth

Many older Georgians still remembered vividly the anger and embarrassment of their parents, who had to live under the domination of carpetbaggers and their Southern allies. My grandfather Gordy was 13 years old when what he saw as the Northern oppressors finally relinquished political and economic control of the state in 1876. My mother was the only one in her family who ever spoke up to defend Abraham Lincoln. I don't remember ever hearing slavery mentioned, only the unwarranted violation of states' rights and the intrusion of the federal government in the private lives of citizens. Folks never considered that the real tragedy of Reconstruction was its failure to establish social justice for the former slaves. The intense bitterness was mostly confined to our older relatives, who couldn't understand the desire of some of us younger ones to look more into the future--or at least the present--instead of just the past.
Source: An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter, p. 18 , Dec 16, 2001

ERA is about women's rights, not gay rights nor abortion

The main obstacle to the ratification of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment establishing gender equality) in Illinois and in Georgia and in the other States that have not yet made this decision is the allegation that it is only supported by radical kinds of people. And the question of homosexuality and the question of abortion and religious beliefs and the sharing of restrooms and the destruction of families--these artificial arguments are put forward, .and they can best be knocked down by a person who's known to be sound and committed and balanced and patriotic, with a stable family and a good job. Those are the kinds of people who must speak out. And the religious leaders in Illinois, and the mothers in Illinois, and the labor leaders in Illinois, and the business leaders in Illinois and in all those States are the ones that can knock down these false allegations that influence adversely some of the members of the State legislatures in the nonratified States.
Source: Equal Rights Amendment Remarks at White House Briefing (APP) , May 15, 1980

Determined to get more women as appeals court

Joining an Appeals Court had long involved knowing the right guy, or supporting the right guy's election. Even after clearing the hurdle, old-boy network bar associations guarded the doors. No wonder that when Jimmy Carter became president in 1977, just one woman served as an appeals court judge.

The Carter administration was determined to do better. Feminist lawyers scrambled to help, forming a new organization to vet judicial candidates on their own metric of commitment to equality.

Source: Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik, p. 80-1 , Jan 21, 1977

Established Martin Luther King Day in Georgia

Carter proclaimed January 15, 1973, Martin Luther King Day, to honor the slain black leader. An above the advice of some of his closest aides he hung King’s portrait in the state capitol. He had taken a stand against prejudice in his own community of Plains in 1965 when he and his own family were the only one sto stand up and be counted in a vote for the admission of blacks to his church. For that, he was boycotted, his children were beaten, and their cars were pelted with stones.
Source: How Jimmy Won, by Kandy Stroud, p. 12 , Jan 1, 1977

Civil rights act was greatest thing ever for the South

This country changed drastically in 1969 when the terms of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were over, and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford became the Presidents. There was a time when there was hope for those who were poor and downtrodden and who were elderly or who were ill or who were in minority groups. That time has been gone.

I think the greatest thing that ever happened to the South was the passage of the civil rights acts and the opening up of opportunities to black people, to have a chance to vote, hold a job, buy a house, go to school, and participate in public affairs. It not only liberated black people but it also liberated the whites.

There has been no concerted effort given to the needs of those who are both poor and black, or poor and who speak a foreign language. But it doesn't take just a quiet, dormant, minimum enforcement of the law. It requires an aggressive searching out and reaching out to help people who especially need it. And that's been lacking in the last 8 years.

Source: The Third Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 22, 1976

A dozen blacks in high positions on his campaign staff

Who did like Jimmy Carter? The answer was some--but not all of the Southern liberals and blacks. How a Southerner like Carter could attract the strong support of the blacks as he did was a problem that perplexed many a Northern liberal. Black support for Carter in the Florida primary could be explained away as an anti-Wallace vote. However, in other primaries Carter polled a large percentage of the black vote--47.6% in Illinois and 41.5% in Massachusetts. Certain things obviously helped Carter with blacks: his excellent record in the area of race relations while governor; the fact that he had the endorsement of Congressman Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, Sr.; and also that he had about a dozen blacks, some of them in high positions, on his campaign staff.
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p.123 , Jan 1, 1976

Supports the Equal Rights Amendment

Carter supports the Equal Rights Amendment. When he was governor, he worked to open more government positions to women. He says, "I am firmly committed to equality between women and men and in promoting a partnership concept in all aspects of life." As president, he would see to it that "laws prohibiting sex discrimination in employment, advancement, education, training, credit and housing be strictly enforced;" "strong efforts be made to create federal legislation and guidelines to eliminate sex discrimination in health and disability insurance plans;" "social security laws be revised so that women would no longer be penalized;" "women have equal access to health care systems and voluntary family planning programs;" "adequate childcare be made available to all parents who need such care for their children."
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p.195 , Jan 1, 1976

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Civil Rights.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Jimmy Carter.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jimmy Carter.
Other past presidents on Civil Rights: Jimmy Carter on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

Political Parties:
Republican Party
Democratic Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Reform Party
Natural Law Party
Tea Party
Constitution Party
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022