Former President Jimmy Carter and the late Congressman Claude Pepper will always be remembered for combating the complexities of our society by sponsoring legislation that legitimized sufficient welfare for all humanity. President Carter served as the 39th president of the U.S. from 1977-1981. Carter also served as a member of the Democratic Party and as Governor of Georgia prior to his election as president. Claude Pepper was a Democratic politician who was elected into the Florida House of Representatives in 1928 and served from 1929-1930. Pepper represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1936-1950 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1962 until his death on May 30, 1989.
During that time period, Carter and Pepper shared a loyal friendship and comradery in government which proved to be a conscientious commitment to securing the rights and liberties of all citizens. The trailblazers advocated for health and education reform, overturning segregation and providing equal housing and job opportunities for all races including women, the handicapped and the aging population. The two also helped pass the Mandatory Retirement Bill in 1986 which abolished age discrimination in the workplace. Throughout their exemplary careers, they both remained steadfast during moments of opposition by the Republicans and their own Democratic party. Despite opposition, both leaders worked towards eradicating ignorance and delving into public policies by levying Republicans and Democrats to form an alliance, conducive to creating good government.
Amazingly, Carter and Pepper shared similar backgrounds. Both men were raised around African Americans who were loyal friends that worked beside their families each day. As young men they both witnessed families living in poverty stricken areas who lacked adequate healthcare, food or housing. They were raised in Christian homes in rural areas in the south where electricity and indoor plumbing were uncommon. Carter was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia on a peanut farm owned by his father, James Earl Carter Sr. Claude Pepper was born on September 8, 1900 in Chambers County, Alabama in a poverty stricken rural area. Pepper’s parents (Joseph and Lena Pepper) were sharecroppers. Even though both men grew up in remote areas, their families embraced the importance of receiving an education which equipped them for their aspirations in life. The pure nature of humble beginnings bestowed a notion of morality and validity in leadership among these courageous men. Thus, allowing Pepper and Carter to vigorously use their platform in government to harness the needs of others by serving as a surrogate to reduce impoverishment in our society.
Today the Claude Pepper Library & Museum at Florida State University holds the Claude Pepper Papers which contains correspondence that exhibits Carter and Pepper support and respect for each other. These materials are available for researchers and may be discovered through the collection’s finding aid. The library also displays several photographs of the two leaders attending various events and solidifying legislation together not only in the Claude Pepper museum but through DigiNole, the FSU Digital Repository.
We invite all researchers from various backgrounds to come in and take a glimpse back into time on how several politicians have changed the scope of government to maximize various opportunities that we are all benefiting from today. We hope that our collection will not only educate you but inspire each of you to be great leaders of merit academically and professionally.
Claude Pepper Library Associate