A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 80 percent of American Adults view King favorably, while just 13 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of him.
This includes 47 percent with a very favorable view and four percent with a very unfavorable one.
King, a Baptist preacher, gave voice to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s and challenged the United States to live up to its founding ideals. He said that his dream was deeply embedded in the American Dream. Americans today continue to strongly agree with those ideals articulated in the Declaration of Independence.
Still, despite the overwhelmingly positive views of King himself, there are mixed reviews for the holiday celebrating his birth and life. Twenty-one percent rate the official celebration of his birthday as one of the nation’s most important holidays, while slightly more (25 percent) regard it as one of the least important holidays. Fifty-two percent consider it somewhere in between the two.
Fourteen percent of Americans plan to do something special to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Most black Americans will do something to celebrate, but only 8 percent of all other Americans will join them.
Attitudes about both King and his holiday changed little in recent years.
Just 31 percent of Americans think the celebration of King’s birthday as a national holiday improves our nation’s racial tolerance. A plurality (46 percent) disagrees and feels it does not improve racial tolerance. One-in-four adults (23 percent) are not sure. This, too, is virtually unchanged in recent years.
Americans are evenly divided when asked if race relations in this country are getting better or worse. Blacks tend to think race relations are getting worse, while whites and other minority adults are more narrowly divided.
Not surprisingly, 76 percent of blacks consider the King holiday one of the nation’s most important, a view shared by just 13 percent of whites and 14 percent of other minority adults. Most blacks will do something special to celebrate the day; 80 percent or more of whites and other minority Americans will not.
Thirty-nine percent of Democrats view the King holiday as one of the nation’s most important, but just nine percent of Republicans and 11 percent of those not affiliated with either party agree.
Sixty-one percent of voters believe the economy is generally fair to black and Hispanic Americans.
Christmas remains the nation’s number one holiday, with 65 percent of Americans who regard it that way, closely followed by the Fourth of July.
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