Just 1 in 10 black Americans believe civil rights movement’s goals have been achieved in the 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr was killed, says new poll

Just 10 per cent of black Americans think the US has achieved all or most of the civil rights movement’s goals, 50 years after the death of leader Martin Luther King Jr.

A new poll, conducted six weeks before the anniversary of King’s assassination, found Americans are still divided by racewhen it comes to the movement the Baptist minister helped lead.

Thirty-five per cent of whites surveyed by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs said that all or most of the civil rights movement’s goals have been achieved. Just 8 per cent of blacks agreed.

In fact, sixty-five per cent of blacks said race relations had deteriorated in the past year alone, compared to 45 per cent of whites.

More than half of all whites said a lot of progress has been made on reducing segregation in public life, compared to just under a quarter of blacks. And more than 40 per cent of whites thought there has been a lot of progress on equal representation in the media and in politics, compared to less than 15.

“I think [the civil rights movement] absolutely achieved its goals,” Grant Jay Walters of New York told the Associated Press. Mr Walters is white.

He added: “I do not think the civil rights movement can go in and change the hearts of men. There’s still a lot of racism in the communities and I’m not sure how you can ever make that go away.”

Stephanie Sutton, a black woman from Maryland, disagreed, saying things are “going on a quick downward spiral”.

“Inequality touches everything, from work, police, schools, education, income, houses,” she said.

Even on the subject of voting rights – an area where the largest number of people thought progress had been made – feelings were divided by race. Sixty-four percent of whites believed a lot of progress had been made on the subject, compared to just 34 per cent of blacks.

Americans agreed most when it came to the criminal justice system, with only 23 per cent of whites and 6 per cent of blacks saying there had been great progress in achieving equal treatment. Similarly, few Americans believed great progress had been made in fair treatment of blacks by police.

King was one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement before he was shot and killed in 1968. Seven years before his death, he emphasised the importance of fighting for equal treatment, through all obstacles.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable,” he said in a 1961 speech at New York University. “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Written By: Emily Shugerman 

First Published 30.03.18: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/civil-rights-movement-goals-achieved-black-americans-martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-50th-a8282321.html

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