Jimmy Carter on George Floyd, protests: ‘Time for racial discrimination is over’

Jimmy Carter issues statement on George Floyd protests

PLAINS, Ga. — Former President Jimmy Carter released a statement Wednesday afternoon, addressing the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Carter said his and his wife Rosalynn’s hearts are with the victims’ families and “all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty.”

Carter also looked back on his inaugural address as Georgia governor, echoing a message he made almost 50 years ago: "The time for racial discrimination is over.”

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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 1971 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.

Carter’s statement comes a day after former President George W. Bush said that he and his wife, Laura, were “anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd.”

“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,” Bush wrote. "It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?

Last week, former President Barack Obama said that the death of Floyd “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.” Obama also wrote a column on Medium and planned to address the country in a live stream Wednesday.