African Americans See Civil Rights Goals as Largely Unachieved

African Americans See Civil Rights Goals as Largely Unachieved

Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., only 8 percent of African Americans think the United States has achieved all or most of the goals of the civil rights movement, a report from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds. 

Based on a survey of 1,337 adults, including an oversampling of 388 African-American respondents, the report, 50 Years After Martin Luther King's Assassination: Assessing Progress of the Civil Rights Movement (9 pages, PDF), found that 54 percent of African Americans said some goals had been achieved, while 36 percent said only a few or none had been achieved. By contrast, 35 percent of white respondents said all or most of the movement's goals had been achieved, while 48 percent said some and 17 percent said only a few or none had been achieved. Similarly, African-American respondents were significantly more likely than white respondents to say little or no progress has been made in areas such as fair treatment by police (73 percent vs. 39 percent), criminal justice (66 percent vs. 40 percent), economic opportunity (51 percent vs. 21 percent), access to a quality education (40 percent vs. 14 percent), desegregation in public life (39 percent vs. 15 percent), voting rights (33 percent vs. 9 percent), and access to quality health care (31 percent vs. 16 percent).

Released ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of the April 4, 1968, assassination of the civil rights icon, the report also found that while 28 percent of black respondents thought things have gotten better or somewhat better for African Americans over the last five years, 46 percent thought things had gotten somewhat or a lot worse, compared with 37 percent and 24 percent of white respondents. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of African Americans and 45 percent of white Americans also believe race relations in the United States are worse than they were a year ago, while 53 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of white Americans believe they will worsen over the next year.

In addition, the survey found that 59 percent of white respondents lived in mostly or all-white neighborhoods, while 36 percent of African-American respondents lived in mostly or all-black neighborhoods, with only 18 percent of African-American respondents saying African Americans are treated the same as white Americans, compared with 64 percent of white respondents, including 34 percent of those living in mixed communities and 10 percent of those living in mostly black communities.

Jesse J. Holland, Emily Swanson. "AP-NORC Poll: Blacks Think Civil Rights Goals Unachieved." Associated Press 03/30/2018. "50 Years After Martin Luther King’s Assassination: Assessing Progress of the Civil Rights Movement." Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Report 03/30/2018.