A Separate History? How Blacks and Whites View Black LeadersBreaking News
tags: Race, American History, polls, black leaders
I rarely devote a column to a single poll, but a January online survey from Ipsos asked questions I haven’t seen before. Bringing them to the attention of a general audience would be worthwhile any time, but doing so is of special importance during Black History Month. The poll’s subject was the attitudes that blacks and whites have about different social movements and also prominent historical and contemporary African Americans, many of whom were and are influential in the struggle for civil rights.
In some areas examined by Ipsos, black and white attitudes were similar. Take views about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Seventy percent in the poll said it had made things better, and only 8% worse. Blacks and whites shared this perception equally. When asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, 39% Americans said it had made things better, 31% worse, and 23% said it had made no difference. But black and white Americans differed sharply. Among blacks, 58% said Black Lives Matter had made things better and 13% worse. Those responses for whites were 30% and 38%, respectively.
As for prominent leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks had the highest levels of favorability, and the views of blacks and whites, while not in perfect agreement, were overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-eight percent of blacks and 87% of whites viewed King favorably. In another question in the survey, 70% of blacks and 79% of whites said King’s message about civil rights was “just about right.” Ninety-six percent of blacks and 87% of whites viewed Parks favorably. (The pollsters did not give the people they polled a description or any identification of the people they asked about in the survey; they simply let people react to their names.)
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