Following Obama, Clinton and Bush, former president Jimmy Carter issues a statement on George Floyd protests


Former President Jimmy Carter has become the latest and final living president to weigh in on the nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd while he was in police custody.

In a statement released by The Carter Center Wednesday, the oldest living president said he and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, are "pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks."

"We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this," it read.

PHOTO: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Plains, Ga. (John Amis/AP Photo)

While Carter said "our hears are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty," he also said that violence is not the answer, as some protests nationwide have turned destructive.

"We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination," his statement read, without mentioning Floyd's name. "But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution."

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Carter's statement also turned inward when he invoked his own experiences growing up in the deep South.

"As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country," he said.

Carter included a call back to his 1971 inaugural address as Georgia's governor when he said, "The time for racial discrimination is over."

"With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later," he continued.

"People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say 'no more' to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy," he added.

PHOTO: Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce June 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Carter's statement comes on the heels of President George W. Bush on Tuesday saying that he and former first lady Laura Bush are anguished by the killing of Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear.

"Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen. It is time for America to examine our tragic failures -- and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths," the statement said.

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Former President Bill Clinton released a statement on Saturday, saying, "No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did. And the truth is, if you're white in America, the chances are you won't."

Clinton's statement also included a series of questions: "If George Floyd had been white, handcuffed, and lying on the ground, would he be alive today? Why does this keep happening? What can we do to ensure that every community has the police department it needs and deserves?"

PHOTO: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit at Pier 17 on October 17, 2019 in New York City. (Brian Ach/Getty Images)

"People with power should go first -- answer the questions, expand who’s “us” and shrink who’s “them,” accept some blame, and assume more responsibility," Clinton added. "But the rest of us have to answer these questions too."

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The nation's first black president, Barack Obama, was the first living former president to publicly comment on Floyd's death with a statement last Friday.

After ongoing protests intensified over the weekend, Obama published an essay Monday on Medium addressing how he thinks people can move forward.

"The next moment in American history can be "a real turning point," Obama wrote, if "we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action."

PHOTO: In a screengrab from the Obama Foundation, former US President Barack Obama participates in a virtual town hall on June 3, 2020. (Handout/Obama Foundation via Getty Images)

Speaking on that turning point again during a virtual town hall Wednesday, Obama said that the tragedy of recent events, while "difficult and scary and uncertain," also represent "an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of (the) underlying trends" of systemic racism.

MORE: Former President Barack Obama to young people of color: 'Your lives matter. Your dreams matter.'

"This country was founded on protest," Obama added. "It is called the American revolution."

ABC News Lauren King contributed to this report.

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