Progress Toward the Dream

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The AP-Ipsos poll shows the vast majority of Americans -- both white and black -- believe there has been 'progress' toward the dream of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Just how much progress -- that's more difficult to agree on. We found similar attitudes when we talked to people in mid-Michigan about racial equality.

"(I) graduated in 1938. I think there were only two black people in my graduation class. And look how many now. People are intermarrying. No one would have thought of that," Elizabeth Morey, who is white, said.

A lot has changed since Morey went to high school. Some of that change happened during and after the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The new poll says nearly 80 percent of whites and roughly two-thirds of blacks feel there has been significant progress toward racial equality since the time of Dr. King. Young people were the group most likely to see change. Eighty-five percent of the young adults polled said there has been significant progress -- local twentysomethings mirrored the national results.

"Race relations have improved a lot. We've come along way since the 60's," 22-year-old Brian Kendrick, who is black, said.

Another question in the poll: Should there be a holiday in honor of King's birthday? Most of the people we talked with said they thought it was important to celebrate King Day as a holiday.

"It reminds us of him and what he has an impact on the society we live in now," Beatrice Otieno, who is black, said.

There are some hard facts about progress toward equality since the days of Dr. King -- at least when it comes to income.

Blacks earned less than half the money whites did on average back in 1955. By 2003, that number had risen to 81 percent. Still, one woman we spoke with says racism can still exist in modern America.

"When you talk about racism it all depends on where you are and the people you are around."

Otieno says she hasn't experienced much racism here in Lansing.

--In Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.