Marion woman celebrates 103 years of life

Dorothy+Carter+sits+for+portrait+on+Feb.+12+at+her+home+in+Marion%2C+Ill.+Born+Jan.+25%2C+1918%2C+Carter+celebrated+her+103rd+birthday.+She+has+lived+in+southern+Illinois+most+of+her+life+and+has+seen+the+area%E2%80%99s+attitude+towards+race+change+during+her+time.+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+much+better+now.+We%E2%80%99re+all+mixed+together+now%2C%E2%80%9D+Carter+said.+%E2%80%9CFrom+thinking+way+back+when+we+wasn%E2%80%99t+allowed+to+associate+together%2C+now+we+are+all+friends+together.+We+are+all+socialized+together%2C+we+go+to+school+together%2C+it%E2%80%99s+much+different+than+it+used+to+be+years+ago.+It%E2%80%99s+a+pleasure+to+know+that+we+all+can+get+along+in+this+world+together.+It%E2%80%99s+more+fun+now+than+it+used+to+be.%E2%80%9D+

Nicolas Galindo @ngalindophoto

Dorothy Carter sits for portrait on Feb. 12 at her home in Marion, Ill. Born Jan. 25, 1918, Carter celebrated her 103rd birthday. She has lived in southern Illinois most of her life and has seen the area’s attitude towards race change during her time. “It’s much better now. We’re all mixed together now,” Carter said. “From thinking way back when we wasn’t allowed to associate together, now we are all friends together. We are all socialized together, we go to school together, it’s much different than it used to be years ago. It’s a pleasure to know that we all can get along in this world together. It’s more fun now than it used to be.”

By Nicolas Galindo, Managing Editor

Born before women were allowed to vote and before the end of World War I, Dorothy Carter celebrated her 103rd birthday on Jan. 25 in Marion, Ill.

Carter was born on Jan. 25, 1918 and in Carter’s 103 years, she has seen a lot of changes in race relations and can even recall Martin Luther King’s influence during the Civil Rights Era. 

“Martin Luther King was a splendid man. Everyone liked him,” Carter said. “He could take the whole town and travel with them together. Everybody singing together, talking together. We all are friends nowadays and it’s more pleasant now than it used to be years ago.”

Carter has also been able to see the vast improvements in race relations and the changes that  are still happening today. 

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“It’s much better now. We’re all mixed together now,” Carter said. “From thinking way back when we wasn’t allowed to associate together, now we are all friends together. We are all socialized together, we go to school together, it’s much different than it used to be years ago. It’s a pleasure to know that we all can get along in this world together. It’s more fun now than it used to be.” 

She has lived in Marion since the 1930s and has become well-known in her neighborhood.
“She’s pretty much an icon in this neighborhood,” her son Roscoe Jenkins said. “[She’s] the neighborhood mom. Whatever she could do for the neighborhood, she did.”
In her younger years, Carter was an excellent swing dancer, according to Jenkins. 

“Oh yes! I could shake it up now,” Carter said. “Do I miss it? I can hardly walk now. I’ve gotten so old, there’s not much I can do right now, but I do the best that I can to get around.”

Carter had 5 sons, two of whom are still alive: Caleb Carter Jr. and Jenkins. She is still very active in her church, Paul’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, where she has served for over 75 and is the oldest active member. 

Carter’s age affords her an understanding of life, which many don’t appreciate in their youth. Such as the understanding of respecting each other’s privacy and learning to get along. 

“It’s a blessing that we learn those things after getting older,” she said. 

Despite her increasing age and declining mobility, Carter still has a sense of humor about getting older. 

“I just have to take it. I can’t go forward and I can’t go backward. I just have to sit down,” Carter said. 

Managing Editor Nicolas Galindo can be reached at ngalind[email protected] or on Twitter & Instagram @ngalindophoto. 

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