Plains, Georgia – November 20, 2023
The United States is in collective mourning as news of the passing of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter reverberates through the nation. A trailblazer in advocacy for overlooked communities and a staunch supporter of mental health initiatives, Carter, aged 96, breathed her last on Sunday afternoon at her home in Plains, Georgia, according to an announcement from the Carter Center. Her seven-decade-long marriage to the 39th president, Jimmy Carter, was a testament to a lifetime of dedication to public service.
The Carter Center revealed that Rosalynn Carter had entered hospice care on Friday after being diagnosed with dementia in May. Throughout her husband’s political career and subsequent years as an advocate for housing stability and fair elections, she earned the moniker “steel magnolia” for her unwavering strength during her White House years.
Condolences and tributes poured in from political figures, social justice leaders, and celebrities alike, underscoring the indelible mark she left on American society. Survived by her 99-year-old husband, four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren, Rosalynn Carter’s legacy transcends generations.
In a joint statement with “First Lady Jill Biden,” President Joe Biden recognized Carter’s contributions in advocating for equal rights, mental health, and backing caregivers. He described her as an inspiration to the nation, emphasizing her tireless efforts to address societal needs.
Former President Donald Trump, via an online post on Truth Social, acknowledged Carter’s extraordinary accomplishments and national service, extending condolences on behalf of the nation. Melania Trump praised Carter’s meaningful legacy of service and expressed wishes for her peaceful rest.
Reflecting on their shared experience as first ladies, Michelle Obama remembered Rosalynn Carter’s wisdom and encouragement to make the role one’s own. Obama highlighted Carter’s abiding faith and commitment to service, noting her groundbreaking work in combating mental health stigma and advancing women’s rights.
Other former presidents, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, along with their respective first ladies, eulogized Carter as a champion for human dignity and a tireless advocate for the overlooked and underrepresented.
Vice President Kamala Harris credited Carter with reshaping the role of first lady, emphasizing her courageous advocacy for mental health and human rights. Harris praised Carter’s dedication to bringing mental health issues into the national spotlight.
Beyond the political sphere, celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Wanda Sykes, and George Takei lauded Carter’s strength, grace, and humanitarian efforts. Philanthropist Melinda French Gates commended Carter for addressing mental health when few public figures did, refusing to let stigma silence important conversations.
As the nation mourns the loss of a pioneering first lady, Rosalynn Carter’s impact on mental health, caregiving, and equal rights remains a poignant part of her enduring legacy. The outpouring of condolences from diverse quarters underscores the profound impact she had on American society and beyond.