By David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — Race relations is back as a major national issue.
A Gallup poll released Friday found 13 percent of Americans said race relations is the country’s biggest problem. While that’s well below levels of the 1950s and 1960s, when civil rights battles were being fought, it’s well above the zero to 5 percent range of recent years.
“With the news in recent weeks filled with protestors angry about high-profile grand jury decisions involving race, Americans have turned their attention to the issue of racial discord in this country,” said a Gallup analysis. “Race relations is now tied with the economy in general — and nearly matches issues with the government — as the nation’s top perceived problem.”
The jump results from the ongoing conflicts and protests after incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.
Nonwhites are more likely to see race relations as a problem. Twenty-two percent of nonwhites named it as a problem, compared to 9 percent of whites.
None of the levels are anywhere near the civil rights era. In 1963, 52 percent cited race relations as the country’s biggest problem. That concern ebbed by the 1970s, only to spike somewhat in 1992 as a result of the Rodney King case. King, a Los Angeles construction worker, was beaten by police after a car chase. The officers were acquitted of all charges, verdicts regarded as sparking riots in Los Angeles.
AFP Photo/David McNew