Adventures in the ATL: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Carter Center

Perhaps the most surprisingly interesting destination of our Atlanta visit was to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Carter Center, the headquarters for Carter’s humanitarian work. Never having visited a presidential library before, I guess I expected it to be boring rooms of documents. As President Carter and I do not see eye to eye on many issues, I expected to go out of a sense of duty, showing him the respect due a former president, but disagreeing with most of what I saw. I felt it was important to expose my daughter to the office of the presidency in this way, but had a long conversation in the parking lot before going in about how Daddy and I view many things differently than President Carter. As it turns out, we learned more about history, geography, and humanitarian aid than we were prepared for. I was surprised, in particular, at how much we DO agree on. We definitely don’t agree on everything, but I found we do have a lot of common ground. Isn’t that true for most situations in life? When we have preconceived notions and a closed mind, we shut ourselves off from others, with whom we might be missing out on some great opportunities!
The grounds are gorgeous. Not overly done, and the entire complex is not palatial, but they are very well manicured and landscaped. It’s a very simple type of beauty.
Of course, there is an obligatory replica of the Oval Office, decorated as it was when Jimmy Carter was president.
This granite (or is it marble?) marker stands in the foyer. The inscription reads, “I want the Carter Presidential Center to be a great resource for the people of Georgia, the nation, and the world as an expression of my gratitude for having been able to serve.”
We did, in fact, find all of those boring documents! 🙂 They are housed in these climate-controlled storage spaces, which are three stories tall. That’s a lot of paper, folks!

The personal effects were my favorite things to see. The museum houses some really sweet items like the Carter family high chair, handmade baby daygowns, report cards, and family Bibles. There are items of clothing that were worn for momentous occasions: wedding outfits and attire worn to his inauguration.
My favorite of all the things on display were the personal stories of people who helped shape Jimmy Carter’s life. Rachel Clark was a worker on the Carter farm and family friend who taught Jimmy Carter about morals, hard work, and treating people fairly.
Of course, there were exhibits about Carter’s time in the presidency. There were interactive displays that taught about each major event of his presidency.
And this super cool interactive exhibit about the humanitarian efforts of the Carter Center. It taught about all of the areas around the globe where the Carter Center is actively working on projects to eradicate poverty, disease, and hunger, and working to ensure democracy and fairness in government elections.

Again, Jimmy Carter and I have a lot that we disagree on. While I applaud his efforts on behalf of oppressed people world-wide, one key difference we have is our level of comfort with government involvement. He’d like to see governments eradicate these issues, while I would like to see the Body of Christ be responsible for them. While I have no doubt that his faith has lead him to do much of the work he does, I wish he would be more overt that he does it in the name of Christ, as opposed to being a representative of a government. However, HOWEVER, I cannot discount and have utmost respect for the fact that he GETS IT DONE. I could complain all day about Jimmy Carter’s (or anyone else’s) motives and ideas, and I could let it paralyze me into doing NOTHING for the poor, widows and orphans. I will choose, instead, to spend my time and energy and thoughts on how I can serve those who are in need.  

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