Former President Jimmy Carter championed racial equality Tuesday evening, saying "there's no difference with people in the eyes of God" during a 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act.
Carter, 89, hailed the landmark 1964 law that outlawed discrimination against minorities and women as a stepping stone, but insisted there's still more work to do.
"There's still a gross disparity between black and white people on education and employment," he explained, citing black unemployment rates that exceed the national average. "A good amount of schools in the south are still segregated," he added.
Growing up in the once-segregated state of Georgia, the former president recalled being influenced by black culture and his push to end racial discrimination after he was elected governor of that state in 1970. But four decades later, the 39th president said racial inequality still disproportionately affects African Americans.
He also touted his support for gay marriage and said he believes it will eventually be recognized in all states.
"I don't believe there's a difference between people because of their sexual orientation," said the devout Christian and longtime Baptist Sunday School teacher.
The three-day summit will feature former President Clinton, who will speak Wednesday; President Obama is scheduled to give the keynote address Thursday and former President George W. Bush will wrap up as the event's final speaker.
This story was updated at 11:00 p.m.