Celebrating Rosalynn Carter: A Pillar of Advocacy and Grace in Women’s History


In the observance of Women’s History Month, it’s imperative to shine a light on the lives of women who’ve significantly shaped our societal fabric with their resilience, advocacy, and leadership.

Among such distinguished figures, Rosalynn Carter stands out, not just as a former First Lady but as a tireless advocate for mental health, a champion for women’s rights, and a role model for compassionate caregiving.

Mrs. Carter’s legacy, particularly in advancing causes crucial to women and families, underscores her profound impact on American society and beyond and makes her a shining example of this year’s Women’s History Month theme: “Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

Her impact in these areas, alongside her role as a dedicated wife and mother, offers a nuanced portrait of a woman whose legacy is both formidable and deeply personal.

Women's History Month 2024 logo. A multi-colored circle with "Women Who Advocate for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion" overlayed in white text.
Courtesy of the National Women’s History Alliance website.

Early Life and Marriage

Born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, Rosalynn’s journey from a small-town girl to one of the most influential women in American history is a testament to her resilience, intellect, and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of others.

Rosalynn’s character was shaped by early adversity; her father passed away when she was just 13 years old, leaving her mother to care for four children. As the eldest, Rosalynn naturally assumed a significant share of this responsibility, possibly contributing to her passion for caregiving later on in life.

Excelling academically, she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and went on to meet Jimmy Carter, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Their engagement within a few months marked the beginning of a partnership that would alter the course of American political history.

The Carters’ early years were marked by frequent moves due to Jimmy’s military career, during which they welcomed three sons, each born in different locations. The sudden death of Jimmy’s father in 1953 brought them back to Georgia, where Rosalynn played a crucial role in managing the family’s peanut farming business while continuing her education through correspondence courses.

Political Life and Advocacy

Rosalynn’s foray into political life was characterized by her deep involvement in Jimmy’s campaigns, initially at the state level and later on the national stage. Her commitment to mental health began to take shape during these years, informed by the stories she heard on the campaign trail. As Georgia’s First Lady, she managed the governor’s mansion’s financial accounting and became a published author, sharing her experiences in a book about the governor’s residence.

Her role expanded significantly when Jimmy Carter ascended to the presidency. Rosalynn Carter became the first First Lady to make a campaign promise focused on a specific policy area: the welfare of the nation’s mentally ill. Her involvement in the administration was unprecedented; she attended Cabinet meetings, advised on foreign and domestic policies, and represented the administration at substantive foreign policy meetings while maintaining a demeanor of simplicity and grace.

She did all this while still being an active mother to her fourth and final child, a daughter who spent her childhood years living in the White House.

What an incredible role model to her daughter.

Champion for Mental Health and Women’s Rights

As I mentioned earlier, as First Lady, Rosalynn Carter championed the welfare of the nation’s mentally ill, making it her priority and breaking ground for future advocacy in this area.

She was instrumental in the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, advocating for increased federal support for mental health facilities. Her dedicated advocacy led to her appointment as the honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. Her efforts to destigmatize mental health issues were groundbreaking, as was her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and the Age Discrimination Act.

Both showcased her commitment to advancing women’s rights and equality.

Post-White House Life

The Carters’ post-White House years were no less active. Their work with Habitat for Humanity and the founding of the Carter Center at Emory University underscored their commitment to public service. Rosalynn’s later years saw her championing the cause of caregivers through the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.

A Personal Legacy

Rosalynn’s life as a mother was intricately woven into her public endeavors. She and Jimmy raised four children, instilling in them the values of education, service, and family. Rosalynn managed the delicate balance of public life and private responsibilities with grace, ensuring her children had a supportive and nurturing environment despite the political spotlight.

In 1999, Rosalynn Carter’s contributions were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with the proclamation that she and Jimmy had “done more good things for more people in more places than any other couple on earth.” This accolade speaks volumes about the Carters’ impact, not only as public servants but as a couple deeply committed to each other and the betterment of humanity.

Rosalynn Carter passed away late last year, leaving behind a legacy that is both inspiring and humbling. Her life’s work, characterized by advocacy, service, and a profound sense of duty, continues to resonate.

Rosalynn Carter’s story is not just one of historical significance; it is a narrative of love, perseverance, and the belief that one person can indeed make a difference.

In her memory, we are reminded of the power of compassion and the enduring impact of dedicating one’s life to the service of others.


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Victoria Jackson
Victoria Jackson, a dynamic professional and dedicated mother, is thriving as a social media manager and an assistant to the Movement Mortgage Pensacola branch. Raised in South Alabama, she has called the Pensacola area home for 20 years. Married to Chris for nearly 15 years, her family life is enriched by their teenage daughter, two cats, and a dog. Victoria finds motherhood profoundly rewarding, drawing inspiration and learning from her daughter's unique outlook on life and love for animals. This relationship has fostered in her a deeper understanding of herself, patience, and the importance of perspective. Having overcome significant personal losses, including early widowhood and the recent loss of her father, Victoria’s resilience in the face of adversity is a testament to her strength. Her experiences of loss and grief, including years past of chronic and debilitating migraines and depression have deepened her appreciation of life. She understands the complex experience of being human- balancing sorrow and joy at the same time.


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