Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement that he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter are "pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks," as protests continue across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd.
With Carter's statement, all living U.S. presidents have spoken out about Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police last week.
The former president noted that in his 1974 inaugural address as Georgia's governor, he said "the time for racial discrimination is over." In his statement Wednesday, Carter expressed dismay that he has to repeat that sentiment nearly five decades later.
Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on the national unrest earlier this week, and is set to hold a virtual town hall on police reform Wednesday evening. Former President George W. Bush, too, expressed his sorrow over racial injustices and his faith in the American people to overcome them.
Mr. Carter, who at 95 is the oldest living former president in U.S. history, said that since leaving the White House, he and Rosalynn Carter "have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence," and people of power must stand up to say "no more."
Below is the full statement from Mr. Carter:
Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims' families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.
As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1974 inaugural address as Georgia's governor, I said: "The time for racial discrimination is over." With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.
Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say "no more" to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.
We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.
First published on June 3, 2020 / 4:23 PM
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