Civil Rights Activist Bobby Fuse Reflects on Rosalynn Carter’s Legacy

Published 10:39 pm Saturday, November 25, 2023

Civil rights activist Bobby Fuse gave an interview after the death of Rosalynn Carter, sharing how his sorrow after hearing about her passing.
“I’m going to miss her, and I know the President will. They’ve had some good days here in the last couple of weeks, the two of them. I’m going to miss her. The democratic party of Georgia is going to miss her.”
Fuse spoke of her tireless dedication to political activism.
“Mrs. Carter was a very talented strategist. She had a great insight on campaigns. She assisted me. Any time I called and asked her if she could make an appearance, nine times out of ten she would be there. And she would be there to shake hands, and to speak on democratic principles, loud and clear.
She was active with the young democrats with Georgia Southwestern College when her niece, I believe her name is Carter Flynn, was president of the young democrats of Georgia Southwestern. To increase membership, Mrs. Carter came to the lake house and spoke to the young people.”
He mentioned her work campaigning for a state representative, among others.
“Gubernatorial campaigns, all you had to do was call on her, and if she was able, boy she could pull a speech out there, and talk about how important it is for us to vote for candidates.”
In addition to her political involvement, Fuse highlighted another unique part of Rosalynn Carter’s story.
“Most recently, Mrs. Carter contributed to the Americus Housing Authority’s remodeling of the couple’s Unit 9-A public housing unit in Plains. When the newlyweds returned to Plains, they made this apartment the only public housing unit that was used by a former President and First Lady in history of the United States.”
Fuse talked about efforts to restore the apartment to period furniture, giving it a similar feel to when the then future president and his wife stayed in it. He continued to highlight ways they broke from the norm.
“They were so unique. They were different. They didn’t fit the normal Southern type of people, and I think that cost them a little bit too.”
Fuse recounted a story that exemplified this uniqueness.
“When Mrs. Carter was first lady of Georgia, she hired a nanny for Amy. And the lady was in prison for murder. A lot of people talked against it, said no that’s not a good mix.”
He mentioned that Rosalynn Carter hired her again once she was in The White House, after Rosalynn Carter arranged for Jimmy Carter to serve as her probation officer.
“They were that kind of people, who could have easily said to somebody in jail, no you can’t come up here and work for us, but instead opened the door for that person.”
While the nanny was later exonerated, he remarked on the openness they had shown in hiring her.
“That’s how different they were.”
Fuse also recounted seeing Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter walk during the presidential inauguration on television.
“One of the things that I will never forget, I worked in the Vogue clothing store downtown, and Mrs. Carter had gotten her inaugural overcoat from Mr. Jack Moses, and it was interesting for me as a kid to see them get out of the car and start walking.
You may remember that’s the first couple that did that, against a lot of people saying no, stay in the car, don’t get out. He got out anyway, and he and Mrs. Carter walked a good length of the distance after his inauguration down Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the kind of people they were. They lived openly, and they didn’t want anybody to be living in fear, and they showed it themselves.”