NEW YORK — Most Americans believe civil rights have taken a giant step back in the last five years. A OnePoll survey conducted on Jan. 26 of 2,000 adults – 1,000 white and 1,000 non-white Americans – asked them how they commemorate Black History Month.
People shared that they observe the month by gathering with their family and friends, watching documentaries about Black history with their children, or attending local celebrations in their communities. One respondent adds they honor former President Barack Obama, poet Maya Angelou, and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during that time.
Sadly, the poll reveals that two-thirds (68%) think civil rights in America have regressed significantly. For example, after the Senate struck down the Voting Rights bill in January, 64 percent of people say they were disappointed that the measure was blocked from passing.
More Black History education needed
Regardless of politics, people say they’re more focused on honoring Black History Month. Almost six in 10 respondents (59%) say they celebrate the achievements of Black Americans throughout February. Eighty-three percent of American Indian or Alaska Natives reported they also celebrate Black History Month, followed by 78 percent of African Americans, and half of white respondents.
Sixty-nine percent of all respondents add they wish they had learned more about Black history when they were children. Over eight in 10 American Indian or Alaska Natives (83%), 80 percent of Black respondents, and 66 percent of white respondents echoed that sentiment.
Similarly, seven in 10 adults (71%) wish they learned more about other cultures when they were younger. That may be why 75 percent think it’s important to learn about Black History Month, and other cultures, in school or the workplace.
In fact, nearly eight in 10 respondents believe other ethnicities and cultures that have contributed to society should be included in future school curriculums (77%).
A family experience
Parents also weighed in on the cultural discussion. Of the 72 percent of parents surveyed, 87 percent say they’ve had conversations with their children about the importance of understanding and respecting people’s cultures.
Eight in 10 add that they’re grateful their children are learning in school about the Black figures who have shaped American history (81%). When it comes to their jobs, 62 percent of employed Americans say their employers observe Black History Month.
Employers have previously brought in speakers, such as authors or historians, to discuss different topics relating to Black history, according to 75 percent of respondents. Although 76 percent claim their jobs embrace diversity and inclusivity, the same percentage of people believe their employers can do more to increase both.
Overall, the data suggests the best way to learn more about Black history and other cultures is by consuming media, such as educational TV shows, films or documentaries (61%), books (50%), or podcasts (45%).
Other people would rather learn by attending seminars (40%), volunteering in their communities or local charities (36%), or participating in rallies (33%).