King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities

By Daniel Rivero

With the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech coming up tomorrow, Americans are taking a moment to reflect on successes and failures when it comes to living up to the Dream.

And as a recent Pew Research Center Race Survey reveals, there is still a large disparity of how Americans are evaluating progress in equality.

A full 79 percent of blacks say that “a lot” still has to be done in order to achieve racial equality, compared to 49 and 44 percent for Hispanics and whites, respectively.

This might not come as a surprise, considering that in many ways the economic and opportunity gap between whites and blacks has actually grown since King’s days: Expressed in dollars, the black-white income gap grew from about $19,000 per household in the late 1960s to about $27,000 today.

Since 1967, black households earned about 55% of the income of white households, a number that had crept up to 59% in 2011.

On a lighter note, there were some key areas where gaps have either narrowed, or actually reversed: Black voters actually now surpass white voters in presidential election years by a 3% margin, and life expectancy has narrowed from 7 years longer for whites to 4 years in 2011.

Economic and social data on Hispanics was not included in the release. Nevertheless, the Hispanic population has grown from 3.2% of the U.S. population in 1960 to over 16.3% in the 2010 census.

What do you think of the current state of King’s Dream? Use #FusionDream to complete the following sentence for Fusion’s special project for the anniversary:

I still have a dream that ______ #FusionDream