- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame
President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
39th President of the United States
1924 - present

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has earned high praise over the last two decades for championing the rights of the sick, impoverished and oppressed. With his wife Rosalynn, President Carter founded the Carter Center in Atlanta in 1982. Through his nonprofit, nonpartisan Center, he creates and oversees programs that prevent disease, advance human rights and economic development, resolve conflicts and promote democratic principles around the world. The Center has mediated conflicts in at least nine countries. Since 1989, the Carter Center has sent 47 international delegations to monitor elections in the Americas, Africa and Asia. President Carter earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his many humanitarian initiatives. He became the second Georgian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The first was Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964.

The son of a peanut farmer businessman and a registered nurse, James Earl Carter, Jr. grew up in Archery, Georgia and attended segregated public schools in nearby Plains. Though his father was a segregationist, his mother, Lillian, passed on to her son more progressive views about race relations. Carter earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946. As a submariner, he helped build the reactor for the early Seawolf nuclear submarine. He married childhood friend Rosalynn Smith in 1946; the couple raised four children. Carter resigned his commission when his father died in 1953 and returned to Georgia to run his family's farm and business and pursue his political ambitions.

President Carter's years as a politician hinted at the compassionate man behind the broad smile. As a state senator (1962-1966), he called for statewide school consolidation and reorganization - reforms viewed as threats to segregation. At his inauguration as Georgia's 76th governor (1971-1975), Carter shocked conservatives when he declared, "the time for racial discrimination is over." As the 39th President, (1977-1981), Carter made human rights at home and abroad a central issue of his administration. His orchestration of the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt became one of his greatest accomplishments.

In the 21st century, President Carter also supports and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, a Georgia-based organization that builds homes for the needy all over the world. Carter has authored eighteen books that include political analyses, autobiographies, children's books and poetry.