President Jimmy Carter, 90, grew up in Archery, Ga., in one of just two white families in an African-American community of 200. The author Jacqueline Woodson, 52, won the National Book Award for young people’s literature in 2014 for “Brown Girl Dreaming,” a best-selling and critically acclaimed memoir of growing up in Jim Crow South Carolina and Brooklyn, told in exquisite free verse.
In a conversation, they discuss memories and race:
My understanding of racial discrimination as a child was highly distorted because the most prominent man in Archery (where I grew up in Georgia) was an African-American bishop. When he came home from up north, where he was in charge of A.M.E. churches in five states, it was front-page news. He was the most successful man in my life. I never had any feeling that blacks were secondary.
JW: And it wasn’t just in the South. When we moved to Brooklyn, we lived in Bushwick, right across the line from Ridgewood, a predominantly white community. It wasn’t safe to run in Ridgewood either. We were learning code-switching from such an early age — like a double consciousness almost from the womb.