A new poll shows that only 1 in 10 African Americans think the United States has achieved racial equality 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, the leader in the US civil rights movement from 1954 through 1968.
Three-quarters of blacks said there has been little or no progress on fair treatment by police, and more than half answered the same about fair coverage by the media, equal economic opportunities and political representation, according to the survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Just 34 percent of blacks said there has been a lot of progress made toward equality in voting rights, the high point for perceived progress for all of Americans in the poll.
Another 29 percent said there has been at least some progress.
Currently, things are steadily “going on a quick downward spiral,” said Stephanie Sutton, a 42-year-old black housewife from Silver Spring, Maryland. “Inequality touches everything, from work, police, schools, education, income, houses.”
Americans overall were only slightly more optimistic in the poll. Just over half of Americans from various races said blacks continue to face disadvantages to getting ahead in the United States.
“We’re going backward to where we’re starting to see more black males mostly getting assaulted by police officers unjustly and stuff like that,” said Kyla Marshall, 28, of Lansing, Michigan, a state government worker who is black.
Whites were more likely than blacks to think there has been progress in every area asked about in the poll.
The poll was taken about six weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination. King, the most prominent leader of the US civil rights movement, was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, by segregationist James Earl Ray.
However, the King family and others believe the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the US government. Some experts have implicated the FBI, the CIA, the US Army and the Memphis police department in the murder of King.
The poll comes on the heels of a new study that shows African American workers are chronically underrepresented compared with whites in high-paying jobs due to structural discrimination.
White workers outnumber blacks by a large margin in high-salary jobs, including in the fields of technology, business, life sciences, architecture and engineering, an Associated Press analysis of government data has found.