CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was memorialized Tuesday in Atlanta to the sound of patriotic music and beloved hymns.
The rare gathering of all living first ladies and multiple presidents, including her husband Jimmy Carter, served as a tribute.
While the memorial service took place in Georgia, many found ways to honor her legacy in North Carolina.
Dr. Kortni Alston Lemon serves as the chair and associate professor of the Department of Communication, Art and Design at Gardner-Webb University.
Lemon, a former reporter with years of television experience, is providing her expertise to many aspiring journalists.
"One of things I value about the reporting class is many of the members that are a part of it are journalism majors," Lemon said. "So it gives them an opportunity to really start to dive in deeper to the power and value of storytelling."
Lemon also serves on the United States Advisory Board for the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.
Being on this board means so much to Lemon.
She was appointed to the role by Rosalynn Carter.
"I was appointed back in 2021," Lemon said. "I was so honored to be able to get that appointment, to be a part of this life-changing work that Mrs. Carter has created to help better serve the world, especially as it relates to mental health. And the importance of mental health reporting in regards to how we tell stories, being very careful with our words, also not retraumatizing our subjects, and empathetic interviewing. Also, going back to the fundamentals of journalism ethics — the importance of doing no harm. It's about sharing all these incredible insightful best practices but also the importance of storytelling. Mrs. Carter was a pioneer and truly a trailblazer because she understood the value of storytelling and the importance of what it can do to really decrease stigma. One day I look forward to saying eliminating [the stigma]. I really value the work she's cultivated in regards to that. Also, shaping policy. Helping us be able to really help serve a greater community when it comes down to the importance of mental health."
Lemon says she will continue to uphold Carter's legacy through the mental health programs.
"Think about how it all got started," Lemon said. "We live in an age where we talk about mental health a lot. Mrs. Carter was talking about mental health at a time when people weren't talking about mental health. It was taboo. She had the courage to not only talk about it, but to leverage her platform as a former first lady to be able to help greater serve individuals. I'm excited to continue serving on the board and build her message as it relates to the importance of mental health reporting. Her life and legacy will continue to live on with all the incredible initiatives she cultivated. One of many happens to be the mental health program. She will be missed."
Lemon says she's also grateful for the love the Carters have shown to others.
"One of the things I love about [former President Jimmy Carter] and Rosalynn Carter, is the fact they lead with their heart," Lemon said. "They truly value compassionate leadership and really creating a society of care. That's one of the things I think is going to be missed as it relates to her as a trailblazer."