PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Demonstrates Both White and African American Residents Nationally Agree That Race Relations in the U.S. Have Deteriorated In Past Year

*** Use of poll findings require attribution to the “PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll” and reference to PBS’s Monday, September 21 broadcast of America After Charleston with Gwen Ifill***

Washington, DC (September 21, 2015) — Three months after a white gunman shot and killed nine African American parishioners in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, PBS will broadcast America After Charleston, a one-hour town hall meeting that will explore the many issues propelled into public discourse on the topic of race. In preparation for Monday’s primetime special, the PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans that illustrates the contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans.

Moderated by Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor, the special is produced for PBS by WETA Washington, DC, WGBH Boston and South Carolina ETV Network, to air on Monday, September 21, 2015, at 9pm ET (check local listings).

“With America After Charleston, we are able to engage in frank discussions about race and equality following the murders of nine African American parishioners by a white gunman in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015,” said PBS NewsHour executive producer and SVP Sara Just, who also served as senior executive producer of the PBS town hall meeting America After Charleston. “These topics have dominated media reporting and social media this year and it’s critical to understand American’s opinions on these important topics to inform a national conversation.”

Top lines from the PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll (use of poll finding requires attribution to the PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll and reference to PBS’s Monday, September 21 broadcast of America After Charleston with Gwen Ifill):

  • On the topic of whether African Americans and whites have the same opportunity for getting hired for a job, 76% of African Americans said NO and 21% said YES, while 52% of whites said YES and 42% said NO.
  • Of whether African Americans and whites have the opportunity for equal justice under the law, 87% of African Americans said NO and 11% said YES, while 50% of whites said YES and 46% said NO.
  • On what African Americans and whites have heard or seen about Black Lives Matter, 65% of African Americans think it focuses attention on the real issues of racial discrimination compared to 25% of whites, and 59% of whites think it distracts attention from the real issues of racial discrimination compared to 26% of African Americans.
  • And pivoting to the 2016 presidential election, 56% of African Americans and 31% of whites think the issue of race relations has been given too little attention, while 33% of whites and 19% of African Americans think it’s been given too much attention. Twenty eight percent of whites and 23% of African Americans think race relations in the presidential campaign have been given about the right amount of attention.

America After Charleston was taped just blocks from the site of the shootings at the Circular Congregational Church before a live audience on Saturday, September 19. This special airs one year after Ifill served as moderator for America After Ferguson, a national conversation, broadcast on PBS in September 2014, which explored the complex questions raised around race, class and identity in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.

Media requesting the poll can contact Nick Massella at nmassella@newshour.org.

About PBS NewsHour
PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Major corporate funding is provided by BNSF, with additional support from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, National Science Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.