Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Cummings slams family separations: 'We will not keep kids in child internment camps' Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI MORE (D-Md.) said that while the U.S. may not be a nation of "cowards" when it comes to race, remnants of the country's troubled racial past persist through today.

"I don't know that I would use the word cowards, but it is a subject that we avoid," Cummings said Thursday during an appearance on Morning Joe. "We see the remnants of it all the time."

Cummings, who like Attorney General Eric Holder is an African-American, was referring to Holder's remarks yesterday that Americans have been traditionally timid in addressing racial issues in society.

The Maryland lawmaker said, though, that the election of President Obama as the first black president could make a difference in how Americans address race.

"An election of a man of color to the presidency is going to make a difference," Cummings argued, saying Obama's speech during the campaign after the Jeremiah Wright episode was one of the best speeches on race he's ever heard.

Watch a video of the interview: