The 20th Diversity Lecture Series at Grand Rapids Community College kicked off tonight at the Ford Fieldhouse featuring former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter. Directing the focus away from themselves, the Carters spoke on tough topics such as human rights, abuse of women’s humane rights, and the stigma of mental health. Community members nearly filled the fieldhouse to be a part of history.
“(When I see Carter), I just want to thank him. My dad, who fought in World War II, wanted me to tell him that he was the best president in this modern era.” —Nancy Dodge, 56, right.
“He’s done more than any president since leaving office. He’s been an inspiration to me for many years.” —Kathy Sainz, 61, left.
“It was amazing to see the diversity that he spoke about…what we can do to change the future…” —GRCC Student Stephen Bowers, 21.
“He’s just been such a huge part of my life growing up. He’s a great guy. I like what he represents.” —Lynn Hocott, 59, Grand Rapids.
“Some of the things I had no idea about, particularly the (sex trafficking) happening in Georgia. I had clue that that was as widespread as it was.” —GRCC Student Evan Christoffersen, 19.
“It firmed my continuing faith in Jimmy Carter as a person. His commitment to the peace process and human rights. He’s memorable…and motivating.” —Jim McKimmy, 76, Traverse City.
“It was shocking because a lot of people still get surprised (on the) topics and people should be more aware of it but we are not informed. We need to do something about it. We need to be, like they mentioned, more educated and not ignore these problems and actually learn more about it.” —President of the GRCC Hispanic Student Organization Flora Garcia, 22.
“He’s very peaceful, and I was just very impressed with his comments and… his wife’s comments on mental health stigma. I personally have some experience with that with a family member and…it was just kinda good to hear that things are turning around in that arena and we need to…ostrasize the stigma in whatever way possible.” — GRCC Alum Jonse Young, 46.
“I didn’t know very much about him or what he stood for, so to be able to see that he actually is interested in a lot of things I’m interested in…was pretty amazing. I want to hear more about what they do.” – Kim Alterton, culinary arts student here at GRCC, who was on her way to get Carter’s new book: “A Call to Action”.
“I’m a life-long Democrat, and I’m proud of both President Carter and Rosalynn Carter and the work they do and their commitment to…women. His life span has given him such a knowledge of war and peace, and when he said 75 percent of our armed conflicts may have been unnecessary and could have been solved, that’s just astounding.” – Shiela Bartle, resident of Grand Rapids and member of AAUW (American Association of University Women).
“He’s a hero of mine.” – Maggie Rumfield, Lansing, who said she voted for Carter twice.