Race divides America as profoundly today as the time of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968. A couple of recent polls show the continuing divide between black and white Americans.
Although most Americans see Martin Luther King Jr. as a significant historical figure (80% overall, 78% White, 90% Black) and that some of his civil rights goals were achieved, there is a significant difference among the races in views as to whether most of his civil rights goals were achieved. More than a third (36%) of Whites believe nearly all the civil rights goals were achieved, but only a quarter (27%) of Blacks.
The civil rights focus prior to and during 1968 had been on voting rights, segregation in public life (housing, jobs, public accommodations, schools, etc.) and poverty. African Americans believe some progress has been made in those areas, although not much in eliminating poverty. Whites agree, but are generally more positive on the level of progress.
It is treatment by police and the criminal justice system where both blacks and whites believe the least progress has been made. An Associated Press-NORC poll shows:
The civil rights struggle continues to be influenced by the events in 1968. Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young remember the day when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (April 4, 1968). They were with him at the Lorraine Motel, 50 years younger. They both believe King’s moral authority survives to help the U.S. and worldwide struggle for human rights.
CBS New: Americans view MLK as important, but believe only some of his goals have been achieved
AP-NORC: 50 years after Martin Luther King’s assassination: Assessing progress of the civil rights movements