Back in May, Gateway85 celebrated and paid tribute to the Peach State’s President in a forum that reminded those in attendance of the impact Jimmy Carter has had on championing the many diverse backgrounds living and prospering in this area of greater Atlanta. One attendee, Patty Thumann, shared her special experience with me. She recalled having a “full circle” moment when hearing Jason Carter, grandson of Jimmy, speak. Patty realized the personal impact that President Carter had on her life; if it were not for him, she would not be where and who she is today.
In 1980, the Mariel boatlift brought waves of Cuban refugees to the shores of America. Among those on board were young children like Patty Thumann. Policies enacted by Jimmy Carter allowed her family to leave the communist country of Cuba in search of true freedom and new opportunities. Thumann, a Gwinnecian of 40 years, came to the states when she was 7; and at 13, she began working on Jimmy Carter Boulevard to help provide for her family. Now a business owner, foundation director and a public servant serving on several local boards, she lives out her version of the American Dream.
In so many ways, President Carter’s legacy is being felt as we join millions of others across the nation to wish President Jimmy Carter a happy birthday on October 1st. We continue to recognize the incredible impact he has had on lives, not just in Atlanta, Georgia, and the United States, but all around the globe.
The Refugee Act of 1980, signed into law by President Carter, established a framework for the admission and resettlement of refugees. It ensured that people seeking safety had a legal pathway to seek asylum and build a new life. This law reflected America’s values of compassion and inclusivity, principles that have always made this country a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution and searching for a better life for their families.
We take for granted our freedom and the beauty of bringing the world together in a place where communities connect. Acceptance of all groups prevails and the word diversity takes on an even greater meaning.
Adapting to a new culture, language and way of life is difficult for many who come to the United States. However, the opportunities afforded by Jimmy Carter’s recognition of the need for improved refugee services proved America provides boundless freedom to pursue happiness and success. Education, employment and the freedom to express oneself were no longer just dreams, but tangible possibilities.
President Carter is deserving of great fanfare for his commitment to helping refugees and laying the foundation for a brighter future for Gwinnett County, and the U.S., to thrive with diverse perspectives from all over the world.
Today, we join as one voice to say: Thank you and happy 99th Birthday, President Carter.
Emory Morsberger is CEO of the Morsberger Group and founder of HelpingUkraine.us.