4/12/05 Robin Salter, 334/844-1914 (rsalter@auburn.edu)
David M. Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)

RACE RELATIONS IMPROVING IN ALABAMA, BUT STILL AN ISSUE AT HOME AND SCHOOL

AUBURN – Almost two-thirds of both black and white Alabamians perceive that race relations in the state have improved somewhat during the past five years.

These are among the findings of a recent Ask Alabama public opinion survey, conducted by the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University. Ask Alabama releases periodic results of polls on topics of interest to Alabamians.

Approximately 70 percent of all Alabamians believe that race relations in their local communities and public schools must continue to improve.

“While race relations have improved in the state on the whole, Alabamians have also sent a clear message that public officials need to do more to improve race relations at the local level and in the public schools,” said Ask Alabama project manager Robin Salter.

Opinions on other aspects of race relations are more polarized. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of African-Americans surveyed said that there is a need to pay more attention to improving race relations in the workplace compared to 33 percent among non-minorities.

Salter believes personal experiences may account for differing perspectives among black and white Alabamians. More than half of African-Americans surveyed (53 percent) reported having witnessed unfair treatment, compared to 10 percent among whites.

“These findings demonstrate that individuals who have historically been the targets of racial discrimination are much more likely to acknowledge the problem is there,” added Salter.

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on race relations include:

* 90 percent of Alabamians overall believe that the condition of race relations in Alabama is essentially the same (70 percent) or better (20 percent) compared to other Southern states; and

* Only half of all Alabamians see improvements in race relations in their own communities, while a similar percentage have observed no change.

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on “Race Relations in Alabama” can be found at www.askalabama.org. The poll had a sample size of 578 resident Alabamians 19 or older (101 black and 477 white) and an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Ask Alabama telephone surveys on issues of interest to Alabamians are conducted quarterly. Each survey will include questions on three distinct topics and poll results will be released monthly.