In their recent interview with New York Times’ Philip Galanes, Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson shared their early life memories and views on race, religion, and rights.
Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States. He became an inspiration not only during his term but especially after leaving the White House because he continued to become active in his advocacies. Now 90, the former president still pursues peace, humanitarian aid and global health, human rights, including fair elections. In 2002, he was awarded with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Jacqueline Woodson on the other hand is a 52-year old multi-awarded author from New York. She received the National Book Award for young people’s literature in 2014 for her work Brown Girl Dreaming which details her childhood memories in Jim Crow South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York.
Their memories and views on racial discrimination
Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson had similarities in their childhood years. Carter grew up in a community where majority is African-Americans while Woodson who is black had to grow up in schools where majority of students are white.
In Carter’s recall, he never really witnessed any form of discrimination during childhood within their community. In fact, among the persons he looks up to during childhood is an African-American bishop. Carter added that “I never had any feelings that blacks were secondary.”
On the other hand, Woodson grew up during the civil-rights era (60’s to 80’s) that is considered dangerous for black people. She has faced numerous challenges both in her hometown and up to their new home in New York.
According to Carter, racism and racist brutality still exist today. He suggests that even if we fail to stop micro or macroaggressions including crimes against black people today, we could at least work on eliminating all the existing symbols of hatred. One of the example symbols discussed is the Confederate flag which has been a hot topic lately.
Jimmy Carter is a devoted Christian and according to him, his deep relationship with God started when he experience a major political failure in 1966. Even if he is a democrat, he maintained his conservative views especially when it comes to abortion. He further admits that this has been the issue which consistently caused a dilemma between his political duties and his faith.
Carter says: “I have never believed that Jesus would be in favor of abortion, unless it was the result of rape or incest, or the mother’s life was in danger.”
Jacqueline Woodson on the other hand was a former Jehovah’s Witness. She eventually left the group because of LGBT issues which she is a part of. But according to her, she considers herself and will still remain as Christian.
On same-sex relationships or gay rights
The two have also shared their opinions on gay rights. Carter acknowledges gay rights and compared the situation to the downtrodden and outcast who also received Jesus’ attention. He adds that “Jesus never said anything about gay marriage in the Bible, but I believe he would be amenable to the union of two people who loved each other and didn’t hurt anyone else.”
Woodson on the other hand is happy that her children are now living in an age where there’s marriage equality.