Life for Black people has improved over the past half-decade, say about 39 percent of African Americans. Just three years ago, only about 20 percent of African Americans shared such an optimistic assessment, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
Such a perspective is understandable, given that 2008 marked the first time in U.S. history that a Black person ascended to the nation’s highest office.
In fact, more than half of African Americans (54 percent) said they think Obama's historic election was a positive jolt for race relations. One in three Whites agreed, while 45 percent said his election had no effect on race relations.
A majority of African Americans also held out hope for a brighter future. Fifty-three percent – up a full 9 percent from two years earlier – said that the future will be better for Blacks.
While Obama’s election appeared to play a role in African-American optimism, personal finances also had an apparent impact. A third of African Americans described their financial situation as “excellent” or “good.” In 2006, slightly more than a quarter (27 percent) offered such a positive picture.
Over the same period, White economic stability fell from 52 percent to 35 percent, Pew found.
Still, importantly, an overwhelming 80 percent of Blacks said the United States still needs to do more to equalize rights between Blacks and Whites, the survey found.