Among key findings: Majority of whites, blacks and Hispanics support affirmative action and 73% of Americans approve of interracial marriage
On behalf of AARP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), Gallup conducted its largest and most comprehensive race-relations survey of blacks, Hispanic and whites to date and discovered among other key findings that over half of each group supports affirmative action for blacks and Hispanics and a majority of Americans approve of interracial marriage. The survey, entitled "Civil Rights and Race Relations", marks this year's 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education – the Supreme Court decision that jumpstarted the American Civil Rights Movement and appears in the May-June issue of AARP The Magazine – www.aarpmagazine.org.
The AARP/LCCR Gallup survey found astounding progress in two areas that hit close to home for most Americans: interracial relationships and the neighborhoods we live in. Eighty-six percent of blacks, 79% of Hispanics and 66% of whites said they would not object to a child or grandchild marrying someone of another race.
Further buttressing the idea that different races are increasingly comfortable living together was the finding that a majority of Americans prefer to live in mixed neighborhoods. Seventy-eight percent of blacks, 61% of Hispanics and 57% of whites supported this notion. There was also widespread support for affirmative action, with the majority of Americans voicing their support for programs for blacks (57%) and Hispanics (57%).
But there were vast gulfs between different groups' perceptions of how minorities are treated today. Seventy-six percent of white respondents thought that blacks are treated very or somewhat fairly, while only 38% of blacks agreed with them. And while 61% of whites believed that blacks have achieved the same job opportunities as whites, just 12% of African-Americans concurred.
"The major finding in this survey is that individually, most people have come to accept, and even celebrate the multiculturalism in this country," said AARP The Magazine editor Steve Slon. "But when you start addressing some of the major societal issues of the Civil Rights movement like fairness in front of the law and access to educational and professional opportunities—there are still gaps to be bridged. Whites tend to think that fairness has essentially been achieved, while most minorities still think it is very much a work in progress."
"This poll underscores the progress we have made as a society as well as the critical need to do much more to improve race relations," said Wade Henderson, Executive Director of LCCR. "The fact that a majority of each one of the groups supports affirmative action is extremely important and conveys a strong commitment to equality in the workplace and beyond. As Americans we must all work harder to advance the cause of civil rights and leave our children and future generations with institutions that promote equality for all.