King’s Dream: Have we moved toward racial equality?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series King's Dream

This chart appears in the August 2013 Pew report, called “King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities.” Click on the chart to visit the Pew website and download the entire report.

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.  How much progress have we made over the past 50 years toward a color-blind society?

QUICK—before you read further: How do you answer today’s main question?

If a pollster telephoned you: Would you say that we’ve made a lot of progress, some progress, just a little progress, or none at all?

Here’s what Pew found: About 45% of the general public said we have made a lot of progress, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.  About a third (36%) responded that we have made some progress; while 12% said a little. Only 4% responded that we haven’t made any progress at all.

At the same time, almost half of Americans (49%) said that a lot more needs to be done to achieve racial equality. Three of ten (31%) said some more needs to be done. Only 6% said that nothing more needs to be done.

Blacks and whites tend to disagree about the amount of progress we’ve made, and how far we have to go.

In the survey, almost half of whites (48%) said we’ve made a lot of progress, but only a third (32%) of blacks agreed.  Similarly, less than half of whites (44%) said there’s a lot more to do done, while almost eight of ten blacks (79%) said the same.

One of the biggest areas of disagreement concerns fair treatment of blacks—a topic we’ll explore in more detail this week.

Have we made “a lot of progress” on racial equality, based on your personal experience and observations?

Where have we made the most progress?

Where do we still have a long way to go?

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Series Navigation<< King’s Dream: Is it reality today? Look at these gaps …King’s Dream: Are whites or blacks treated more fairly? >>
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Comments: (1)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesGetting Ahead


  1. Welcome Back, Wayne!

    I think the answer to your question depends entirely on where one starts the evaluation. For many whites, the answer is “we don’t have separate bathrooms anymore and slavery is long gone”, so that’s a lot of progress. But that sets the bar too low. Giving ourselves credit for no longer doing dehumanizing things isn’t saying much. Blacks look at the gap between where we are and what equal treatment and opportunity would look like and are more discouraged.

    This is a poor analogy, but football season is upon us. Imagine your team is getting beat 49-0 and you’ve had lots of flagrant penalties committed against you. As the game goes on, the referees regain control of the game and the penalties stop. You even score a couple of touchdowns. Now the score is 49-24 and being played in a fairly clean manner. But your team is still focused on how far you have to go to catch up. Even if you’re glad not to be abused, you’re still far behind.

    In my analogy, whites focus on the fact that the fouls have stopped (or at least lessened greatly). Blacks focus on the ongoing mistreatment and what true opportunity would look like. In the long run, the latter view is more accurate.