In 2016, Eryn Kane met Rosalynn Carter and former President Jimmy Carter at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.
“When they walked in the room, it was two humble individuals, it was not a former president and first lady,” she said.
Kane was a Ph.D. student at Ohio University at the time. She was part of a small group of historians who were invited to Plains, Georgia, to discuss the Carters’ legacy and redevelopment of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.
“When she walked in the room, there was a dignity around her,” Kane said about Mrs. Carter. “She carried herself with a lot of pride but was very humble when President Carter was speaking about her accomplishments, she downplayed them.”
While at OU, Kane wrote a paper titled, “Mrs. President?” It was published by Wiley Blackwell and is about the former first lady having her own political life and passion for policy.
“It’s the idea of Mrs. Carter as a political surrogate, as a political partner, that she was his most trusted advisor and many of the decisions he made in office were heavily influenced by Mrs. Carter,” Kane said. “She has her own political career outside of her husband and her story needs to be told, so if I could play a small part in that, I think that’s amazing and it’s what I tried to do when I was a student at OU.”
Kane described meeting the Carters as one of the greatest honors of her life. She said Mrs. Carter was ahead of her time and the loss of the former first lady is heartbreaking.
“I think Mrs. Carter truly could be the role model for what a female president could look like,” Kane said. “She broke ground as a first lady. She truly was a political entity in her own right and even though she represented him, a lot of times she had her own opinions, and they were well known.”
Mrs. Carter wrote Kane a note on the day they met. Kane often carries it with her to this day.