Poll: Feeling of progress rises among African Americans

Despite being hit especially hard by the bad economy, job losses and the high rate of foreclosures, African Americans’ assessment of race relations and prospects for the future has surged more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter-century, according to a new poll.

In a survey of American racial attitudes released Tuesday, researchers reported that the feeling of progress is driven in large part by the election of President Obama, along with a greater sense of local community satisfaction and a more positive outlook. The majority of African Americans say they are better off now than they were five years ago.

“These are dramatic findings,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, which conducted the study. “We expected that there may be an Obama effect, and it was really quite dramatic — which isn’t to say that this era as measured in this survey means that all is fine between blacks and whites.”

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Pictured: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) supporters celebrate as his win of the presidential election is announced November 4, 2008 in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham, along with Selma and Montgomery, were touchstones in the civil rights movement where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led massive protests which eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ending voter disfranchisement against African-Americans. Boutwell Auditorium is the same the auditorium where Sen. Strom Thurmond launched his racist ‘Dixiecrat’ presidential campaign in 1948 and where singer Nat King Cole was attacked onstage by Ku Klux Klansmen during a ‘whites only’ concert performance in 1957.Americans voted in the first presidential election featuring an African-American candidate, Democratic contender Sen. Barack Obama, who ran against Republican Sen. John McCain. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images).