There’s no doubt that you grow in the White House. The things that come to the White House are the problems. You learn about how many people have mental afflictions, how many people are poor, how many people are hungry. And the actions of our country affect the world. For me it was a place of great responsibility. I felt that I ought to do everything I could.
- Rosalynn Carter, The Commonwealth Club, September 27, 1985
Mental health advocate and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. (Photo by Wayne Perkins/The Carter Center)
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter recently confirmed her plans to speak at The Commonwealth Club this August, marking the politically active campaigner, public figure and mental health advocate’s first visit to The Club since her speech at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, almost 25 years ago.
It’s more than a little exciting for us. When she first spoke with a Club audience on September 27, 1985, she and Former President Jimmy Carter were only four years out of the White House, having recently established the Carter Center of Emory University and the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, GA. She’d already penned the autobiographical First Lady from Plains and established a commitment to public health issues ranging from smoking-related diseases to the prevention and treatment of mental illness.
Carter has been an honorary fellow of the American Psychiatric Association since 1984, and her Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism has played a major role in fighting incorrect, negative stereotypes of mental disorders in the media. In 2008, Congress passed legislation requiring the availability of mental illness treatments under health insurance plans, thanks in large part to Carter’s active campaigning the year before.
During her White House years, the former first lady saw the Middle East peace discussions that resulted in the Camp David Accords, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and 1980’s Chrysler Corporation bailout (all topics that sound familiar today, too). She regularly represented the president in discussing foreign affairs with world leaders and dignitaries, and she is the first First Lady to keep abreast of the nation’s pressing issues by regularly sitting in on Cabinet meetings.
It’s our honor to welcome Mrs. Carter to The Club again. We’ll post more information regarding her upcoming talk online as the date approaches – in the meantime, check out our web site at www.commonwealthclub.org to find out more about Club talks, speakers and special events.
--By Andrew Harrison