Read a PDF of our statement here.

The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is deeply saddened by the passing of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a tireless advocate for human rights and life partner to President Jimmy Carter. Carter died on Nov. 19, 2023 at her Plains, Georgia home. She was 96 years old.

LDF President and Director-Counsel Janai Nelson and Associate Director-Counsel Tona Boyd issued the following statements:


“Our hearts go out to the Carter family with our deepest condolences for the loss of First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and in tremendous gratitude for her many years of service to this country. Mrs. Carter was a lifelong champion of human rights and exemplified compassion, dedication, and resolve within her leadership.

As a passionate advocate for mental health reform, Rosalynn Carter played a crucial role in improving and expanding access for millions of Americans. Her humanitarian efforts to support communities in need, both in the White House and beyond, had far-reaching impacts that helped to cultivate a brighter future for so many. 

“At a recent visit to the Carter Center, I marveled at the partnership of public service that came to define President Carter and Mrs. Carter, reflecting on how fortifying it was for their marriage and for our country. Their joint service is an exemplar of enduring leadership and love of humanity. Mrs. Carter will be missed and leaves behind a lasting legacy.”


“Rosalynn Carter worked tirelessly to improve mental health care in the United States and she was a fierce advocate for human rights both at home and abroad. I witnessed her dedication firsthand as an intern at the Carter Center, where she and President Carter embodied a true commitment to public service. My sincerest condolences to her entire family and those she touched.”


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.