Race and the Role of Government

black white hands raceGallup measured a sharp uptick following the highly publicized Zimmerman trial in Florida in the percentage of African Americans who believe new laws are needed to protect their civil rights. The same poll also measured a sizeable jump in the percentage of people of color who believe that government should play an active role in “improving the social and economic condition” of people of color. That percentage was up to 63% compared to 54% in June-July.

Even before the solidifying of blacks’ support for government action on civil rights seen since the Zimmerman verdict, Gallup recorded a sharp racial divide on these questions. In the June-July poll, 53% of blacks vs. 17% of whites believed new laws are needed to reduce discrimination. Similarly, 54% of blacks versus 22% of whites supported a major government role in improving minorities’ economic and social status. By contrast, the majority of non-Hispanic whites versus 29% of blacks said civil rights for blacks have improved greatly over the course of their lifetimes.

Hispanics’ views more closely align with blacks’ views on the questions about government’s ideal role in helping blacks and other minorities, but fall squarely between those of whites and blacks in their perceptions of civil rights progress.

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