The latest former president to express about the police killing of George Floyd, Jimmy Carter, is calling on people in power to offer more than lip service to refining what he termed “a racially discriminatory police and justice system.”
Carter said he and his wife, Rosalynn, are “pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks,” in a statement posted at CarterCenter.org.
The 95-year-old former president added he and his wife’s hearts “are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty.”
But while the Georgia native said shining a spotlight on the wickedness of racial discrimination is a must, “violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.”
Carter reflected how being a white male of the South made him “know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans.”
“As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: ‘The time for racial discrimination is over.’
“With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.”
Carter also noted that people have a duty to speak out against the current system of inequity and that silence can be as deadly as violence.
“People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy,” he said. “We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.”
Carter closed out his statement by saying change won’t truly occur until America lives up to its professed ideals.
“We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this,” he said.
Carter is the final former president to speak out about Floyd, 46, a Black man who died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed on the ground.