50 Years After MLK's "I Have a Dream," Study Shows Much Work To Be Done

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 22 2013 10:27 PM

MLK's Dream Still Deferred? Half of America Thinks So

177224636
A woman photographs the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been nearly 50 years since Martin Luther King marched on Washington, DC delivering his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Over the last half-century, America has changed dramatically in many ways, but when it comes to race, many Americans feel the country hasn't improved enough.

A Pew Research Center study out today, surveyed Americans’ attitudes about racial equality, and found that less than half of those polled thought that the country had made “a lot” of progress towards achieving racial equality. About half of Americans still think  “a lot” more needs to be done, with a third of blacks saying they had been discrimitated against or treated unfairly due to their race in the past year, according to the report.

Advertisement

When asked how well the different races get along today, 78 percent of blacks thought “pretty well” or “very well,” compared to 81 percent of whites. But, when it comes to treatment by police 7-in-10 blacks and 37 percent of whites felt that black Americans were treated less fairly by police.

Here's more from Pew:

The mixed views on progress toward racial equality found in the survey results are echoed in the findings of a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. government data on indicators of well-being and civic engagement, including personal finance, life expectancy, educational attainment and voter participation. These data look at equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity.

The analysis finds that the economic gulf between blacks and whites that was present half a century ago largely remains. When it comes to household income and household wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On measures such as high school completion and life expectancy, they have narrowed. On other measures, including poverty and homeownership rates, the gaps are roughly the same as they were 40 years ago. The black unemployment rate also has consistently been about double that of whites since the 1950s.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.