Home > Family > Pew Survey Shows Positive Views of MLK Have Increased

By: Manny Otiko, IVN

Nationwide — A recent Pew survey shows that attitudes towards Dr. Martin Luther King have changed over the last 50 years.

King now has a national holiday and a national monument and is widely regarded as a legend in the civil rights movement. But during the 1960s and until the time of his death, he was regarded as a controversial figure. Many white Americans saw him as a rabble rouser.

Kiana Cox, a senior researcher on the Race and Ethnicity team at Pew Research Center, said that according to a 1965 Gallup poll, King only had a 45% positive rating. But in 2011, he had a 94% positive rating.

“While he was alive, it did not view favorably him,” she said

But now those attitudes have changed, according to Pew research.

According to a Pew survey, 81% of Americans now say King had a positive impact on the United States. Pew conducted an online survey of 5,000 Americans from diverse backgrounds, according to Cox.

The poll was taken in honor of the 60th anniversary of the march on Washington.

However, Cox said that when you dig into the data, you find some stark differences. She said that Black and white Americans have a different view of racial progress.

According to Pew, 52% of white Americans said the country has made good progress in terms of racial issues. However, Black Americans had a different point of view. Fifty-two percent of Black Americans said that the country had not made enough racial progress.

According to a Pew press release, that divide was also present in the past.

“Throughout the mid-1960s, Black Americans had much more favorable views of King than White Americans did. In the May 1963 Gallup survey, for example, 92% of Black Americans but only 35% of White Americans had a favorable opinion of the civil rights leader,” according to a Pew press release.

This difference in point of view is also found among the political parties. Republicans thought the country had made racial progress. While Democrats thought that the country had not made enough racial progress.

“Two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean Republican say the country has made a great deal or a fair amount of progress on racial equality in the last 60 years. A far smaller share (38%) of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the same,” according to the press release.

Here are some other interesting findings from the Pew survey:

70% of Americans supported political protests, as long as they didn’t interrupt daily life; Only 13% supported protests that interrupted daily life; 60% of Americans supported boycotts.

The survey also found that more African Americans had a positive view of King. “59% of Black Americans say their personal views on racial equality have been influenced by Martin Luther King Jr. a great deal or a fair amount. Smaller shares of Hispanic (38%), White (34%) and Asian (34%) Americans say the same,” according to Pew.

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