An "innate racism" continues to haunt America in the wake of the tragic mass murder in Charleston, S.C., and other "police and black confrontations" remind us "that we still have a long way to go," former President Jimmy Carter said on Thursday.

Carter appeared on PBS' "NewsHour" with Judy Woodruff Thursday to promote his new book "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety."

Woodruff asked him: "Why do you think this country still wrestles so much with race?"

"Well, I think we kind of breathed a sigh of relief back in the '60s after we had 100 years of racial discrimination, with separate but equal, when the Supreme Court and Congress and everybody else agreed to that, all the churches," said Carter.

"And after the [President Lyndon] Johnson years of Voting Rights Act and Martin Luther King, Jr., Andy Young and others being successful, I think the United States kind of breathed a sigh of relief and said, 'Well, we've resolved the race issue and there won't be any more detectable,' or at least elements of the American society where whites are in the supreme position to the detriment of blacks," he said.

"And I think the recent high publicity about the police and black confrontations, and the tragedy in Charleston, have reminded us that we still have a long way to go," said Carter.

"There's still an innate racism in our country that needs to be addressed accurately, and I think the Confederate flag has been for some people a lingering element of this," said Carter. "Georgia did away with it 14 years ago, and the governor that did it was soundly defeated when he was up for re-election probably because of the flag."

Interestingly, the day before this interview, Carter told CNN's Jake Tapper that "very few people" look at the Confederate flag "as a racist symbol."

"But for those who feel that way, black people in our country, we should do away with the Confederate flag and its emblem as white superiority in any place that it exists," said Carter.