Posted Saturday afternoon, May 19, 2018.
Gas station at the Carter Peanut Warehouse complex in Plains, Georgia, sometime in the 1950s. Photo via Library of Congress.
We all know how self-made man Donald Trump’s father staked him to his business with a few paltry millions in seed money. Jimmy Carter’s father staked him to his too, by dying. When the senior Carter died, the future president gave up a promising career in the Navy to come home to Georgia and take over the family peanut farm and warehousing business. In an alternative, more deserving America, Admiral James Carter was President Jerry Brown’s Secretary of Navy then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump’s first achievement as a businessman was to get himself sued by the federal government for violations of the Fair Housing Act---he wouldn’t rent to black people, but he’s not a racist. In one of his first moves as a young businessman, Jimmy Carter added a filling station to the warehouse complex, because…
A more serious obstacle immediately facing Carter as he tried to salvage the family business was the pervasive issue of race. About fifteen of his father’s former customers, who were members of the local White Citizens Council, paid him a visit and told him he was the only white man in Plains who had not joined their virulently anti-black organization. He refused, and they even offered to pay his five-dollar membership fee. “I told them I would take the five-dollar bill and flush it down the toilet,” he recalled, whereupon they threatened to boycott his business and pressure his suppliers as well. That included the owner of the local gas station, who refused to fill the tank on his pickup truck, so Carter installed his own gas pump at the warehouse. His customers gradually started to return, and the business thrived because of his good service.
---from “President Carter” by Stuart Eizenstat.