An “overwhelming portion” of the public animosity directed at President Barack Obama and his efforts at healthcare reform this summer is based simply “on the fact that he is a Black man,” according to former Pres. Jimmy Carter, a southerner, who grew up in racially divided Georgia, personally witnessing Jim Crow segregation in all its forms.
“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,” Mr. Carter told a town hall meeting days after the outburst during the President’s speech to Congress Sept. 9, by South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson.
“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 shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. That racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply,” the former president continued.
Mr. Carter grew up on a farm in the 1930s, where he admits he “stayed barefoot from the middle of March until the middle of October,” has worked to overturn racial segregation throughout his career in public office. When he was sworn in as the 76th Governor of Georgia Jan. 12, 1971 he declared in his inaugural speech that the time of racial segregation was over and that racial discrimination had no place in the future of the state.
He was the first statewide office holder in the Deep South to make this declaration in public, and he appointed many Blacks to statewide boards and offices, during his term. As president, elected in 1976 he continued that policy, appointing Blacks to a number of positions never before held by Blacks.
“When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the President of the United States of America as an animal or a reincarnation of Adolph Hitler, or when they wave signs in the air that say ‘We should have buried Obama with Kennedy,’ those kind of things are beyond the bounds of the way presidents have ever been accepted, even with people who disagree,” Mr. Carter told NBC News. “And I think that people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree, by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American. It’s a racist attitude.” Continue reading