Overflow crowd for Jimmy Carter visit at Illinois College in Jacksonville

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Nathanael Herbert/The Lamp Many people watched President Jimmy Carter speak using their smart phones after the facility reached maximum capacity.

Many people watched President Jimmy Carter speak using their smart phones after the facility reached maximum capacity. (Nathanael Herbert/The Lamp)

By Nathanael Herbert
Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE – More than 100 people were sent home Oct. 14 when Illinois College’s Bruner Center for former President Jimmy Carter’s speech.

The Illinois College Phi Alpha Literary Society Lecture not only featured Carter, but also Illinois College benefactor Dr. Khalaf Al Habtoor and ex-Congressman Paul Findley.

During the event, Carter spoke of the many peace treaties he has established: The Carter Center and the revealing of the Pathways to Peace initiative, a new program at the college.

The Pathways to Peace initiative will teach and challenge a select few students and faculty at Illinois College how to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Carter, Al Habtoor and Findley were all vital in creating, developing and financially supporting the new program, which will launch in the spring 2015 semester.

All three men participated in a question-and-answer session toward the end.

IC’s staff announced before the event that the center had reached its capacity, forcing many people to watch the event from a different location.

Those who could not enter the building could still watch the former president over a live video feed on the college’s website via their smartphones.

The 2,000 people who were able to find a seat at the event had arrived two hours prior to its start.

Multiple schools from around Jacksonville brought junior high and high school students to see Carter, a Democratic president from 1977 to 1980.

A sophomore from Westfair Christian Academy, Kiley Hutton, was one student who attended the event.

“His (Carter’s) goal is to target women and children who are vulnerable or abused globally,” Hutton said.

She said she enjoyed how Carter talked about Christianity and protecting women and children with basic human rights.

Hutton bluntly said that the event was long and that the speakers were hard to understand. She said that they didn’t give clear answers to questions and spoke a lot of political language.

Trey Brown, a junior who was also from Westfair Christian Academy, echoed Hutton’s opinion.

However, he did key in on the main topic of peace.

“Peace is so important to have in this world and country.  I would like to help keep peace, and help tell other countries that we’re here to create peace,” Brown said.

Rachel Clayton, a sophomore at Illinois College, ushered the event.

She said that “people (at the event) clapped all the time, every time – it was ridiculous.”

Even being a college student, she said she struggled to understand the “political lingo” that was being said.

Clayton said she believed that most people came solely to see President Carter, and they were not concerned with what he had to say.

Clayton said that hosting this event with Carter was significant for the 1,000-student liberal arts college.

Illinois College benefited by gaining an exclusive new program, recognition from newspapers and TV stations, hosting a former president and congressman and drawing students and citizens from the surrounding area.

Nathanael Herbert can be reached at 217-786-2311 or [email protected]

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Overflow crowd for Jimmy Carter visit at Illinois College in Jacksonville