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Building a ‘fair and humane’ world: Alum remembers working for Jimmy Carter

Linda Solomon Wood ’79 recalls the 39th president’s earnest and honorable leadership style
Like Jimmy Carter in his post-presidency, shown here at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, Linda Solomon Wood has made justice issues a part of her career.

Linda Solomon Wood, Weinberg ’79 first met Jimmy Carter in 1974. After hearing him speak in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, she knew she wanted to help him become president.

Now the publisher of Canada’s National Observer — a climate change-focused publication based in Vancouver — Solomon Wood co-founded a student organization at Northwestern that supported Carter’s candidacy.

She was instrumental in bringing him to Northwestern to speak at Willard Hall in 1975, and went on to work on Carter’s campaign as a press assistant for Jodie Powell, his press secretary, before joining the national campaign staff for a year beginning in January 1976.

Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter with Linda Solomon Wood at the White House.

With the former president, 98, now in hospice care, Solomon Wood shared some memories of Carter with Northwestern Now.

She recalled a car ride with him to a rally in Fort Myers, Florida, where Carter was campaigning against George Wallace, a segregationist Southern Democrat who was also running for the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.

Carter asked questions and listened thoughtfully to her answers, she said, and made her feel valued and proud to be working for him.

“He inspired me as a young person to believe that America could become more progressive, fair and humane, and that all of that was worth fighting for,” Solomon Wood said. “It’s been rewarding to see that over the years, he never gave up that fight.”

Months later, after Carter had won the presidency, Solomon Wood greeted him in the receiving line at his inauguration and they exchanged a hug.

The next day, she flew back to Chicago and Northwestern, where she was amazed to see a photo of herself and Carter featured on the back cover of the Chicago Tribune, among others from the inauguration. A similar photo, she said, was also featured in Time magazine.

“I remember feeling so proud to have worked in the campaign when Carter pardoned the draft dodgers, installed solar panels on the White House and made human rights a core piece of American foreign policy,” she said.

Like Carter in his post-presidency, Solomon Wood has made justice issues a part of her career. She has crisscrossed the world in her work as a journalist, and her media company now covers the many facets of climate change, including public health, disinformation, corporate overreach and environmental justice in Canada. 

“For a generation of young liberal Southern Democrats, Jimmy Carter made us feel like we had a place on the national stage and a role to play in the world,” she said.