On Monday, America celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the famed non-violent civil rights leader who was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. CST.
While most say his dream has not yet been realized, Americans’ views on race relations have improved marginally, according to a new poll. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 25% of American (adults) think the country has achieved the objectives in Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech more than 50 years ago.
Sixty-two percent (62%) disagree and feel the United States (US) has not reached a time when men and women of all races have equal opportunity, the highest level of pessimism measured yet. In 2016, 61% felt King’s dream hadn’t been reached yet, which eclipsed the previous high of 59% in August 2013. In 2012, it began to rise and hit 49%.
Thirty-seven percent (37%) of adults identifying as Republicans believe all races have equal opportunity, but just 13% of Democrats and 26% of adults not affiliated with either political party agree.
But while only 22% of Americans rate race relations in the U.S. today as good or excellent, that’s up slightly from previous surveys and 4 points higher than the all-time low of 18%. Further, 28% now rate race relations in this country as poor, but that’s down from 38% in June.
Forty-five percent (45%) now say race relations are getting worse, also down from 52% in the previous survey, which was nearly identical to a Selzer & Co. Poll conducted for Bloomberg in 2014.
These results, while not indicative of a particularly united nation, compare to the steady decline since 2012 under Barack Obama and are surprising given the media coverage of the candidacy of Donald Trump and later the Trump Administration.
Six years ago, 38% felt race relations were getting better, a steady decline from decent numbers measured during the Bush years. Worth noting, black Americans (26%) and other minorities (26%) are more likely to say race relations are getting better than white (21%) Americans.
Today, 28% think they’re staying about the same. Most Americans (80%) believe the term “racism” refers to any discrimination by people of one race against another. Just 11% think racism is specifically discrimination by white people against minorities. This is generally unchanged from surveys over the past five years.
Seventy-three percent (73%) of black adults think MLK Day is one of the nation’s most important holidays, which is a view shared by only 19% of white Americans and 30% of other minorities.
The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on January 10-11, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.