The Corner

Jimmy Carter’s Race Problem

When former president Jimmy Carter accuses the opponents of Barrack Obama’s policy of nationalizing broad aspects of our economy and spending us into bankruptcy of being “racists,” perhaps he should look in the mirror. In his 1982 book, Keeping Faith, Carter disingenuously said he “was not directly involved in the early struggles to end racial discrimination.” No kidding — in fact, he directly and unambiguously supported segregation. When Carter returned to Plains, Georgia, to become a peanut farmer after serving in the Navy, he became a member of the Sumter County School Board, which did not implement the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision handed down by the Supreme Court. Instead, the board continued to segregate school children on the streets of Carter’s hometown.

As Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU’s Voting Project, relates in his book A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia, Carter’s board tried to stop the construction of a new “Elementary Negro School” in 1956. Local white citizens had complained that the school would be “too close” to a white school. As a result, “the children, both colored and white, would have to travel the same streets and roads in order to reach their respective schools.” The prospect of black and white children commingling on the streets on their way to school was apparently so horrible to Carter that he requested that the state school board stop construction of the black school until a new site could be found. The state board turned down Carter’s request because of “the staggering cost.” Carter and the rest of the Sumter County School Board then reassured parents at a meeting on October 5, 1956, that the board “would do everything in its power to minimize simultaneous traffic between white and colored students in route to and from school.”

I am not aware that Rep. Joe Wilson has ever supported segregation or engaged in the same type of reprehensible, racist behavior. The idea that opposition to Obama’s policies reflects “racism” is absurd; even the White House has rejected it. All of this raises a larger issue about Carter’s remarks. When he makes such a claim, is he projecting his own inner racial beliefs? Is he so guilt-ridden over his past racist behavior that he wants to make amends to the race-baiters that today populate the Left?  Or is he just cynically helping them score political points?

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