"That racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country," Carter said in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams. "It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."
Carter, the first president from the Deep South since the Civil War, made the remarks in Atlanta.
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," Carter said.
In an apparent reference to the outburst by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., during Obama's speech to Congress on healthcare, Carter predicted the president will "triumph over the racist attitude that is the basis for the negative environment that we see so vividly demonstrated in public affairs in recent days."