Blacks Upbeat About Black Progress, Prospects

Despite the bad economy, blacks' assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter century, according to a comprehensive new nationwide Pew Research Center survey on race.

Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black president appears to be the spur for this sharp rise in optimism among African Americans. It may also be reflected in an upbeat set of black views on a range of other matters, including race relations, local community satisfaction and expectations for future black progress.

In each of these realms, the perceptions of blacks have changed for the better over the past two years, despite a deep recession and jobless recovery that have hit blacks especially hard.

The telephone survey was conducted from Oct. 28 to Nov. 30, 2009 among a nationally representative sample of 2,884 adults, including 812 blacks. (For details see page 67 in the full report).

In some topic areas, the survey finds little change in black opinions. For example, four decades after the turmoil, triumphs and tragedies of the Civil Rights era, most blacks still doubt the basic racial fairness of American society. More than eight-in-ten blacks — compared with just over a third of whites — say the country needs to make more changes to ensure that blacks have equal rights with whites. Blacks also continue to lag behind whites in their satisfaction with their lives and local communities, and most remain skeptical that the police treat blacks and whites equally.

Read the full report Blacks Upbeat About Black Progress, Prospects on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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