Black Lives Matter, Losing Our Religion Distinguish Black Respondents In Latest Race Survey

Apr 10, 2017
Originally published on April 10, 2017 11:05 am

A new survey of racial attitudes and perspectives in Arkansas finds that whites and blacks diverge significantly on the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Joel Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the UA Little Rock this week releases the results of its annual Race, Ethnicity and Religion survey. John Kirk is the survey’s author.

"There's a very polarized idea about what Black Lives Matter means what its successes will be, and African Americans very strongly believe Black Lives Matter is making an important impact and having an important role, than whites, who tend to be very much in the opposite direction, that Black Lives Matter isn't making an impact and doesn't have a role to play."

The survey also found that even familiarity with Black Lives Matter falls off steeply the farther surveyors move from urban centers.

Another result sure to get attention is the finding that most black Arkansans, as well as whites and Hispanics, say religion is losing influence in American life. All three groups roundly agree that’s bad, but it might be particularly disappointing for the black community, Kirk says.

"During the age of segregation, one of the few places thatAfrican Americans had a home base in which they could meet together, in which they had some degree of independence, in which they were self-funded. You know, the church has always been there as a cornerstone community institution. So I think the African American church  ... has played a much more important, or certainly a much more central role, because it's had to." 

The 14th annual racial attitudes in Pulaski Co. Conference takes place Thursday inside the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall on the campus of the UA Little Rock, beginning at 10:30.                                    

John Kirk is George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History as well as the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity director. He was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, in the United Kingdom, and holds an undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in American History from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He taught at the University of Wales, Lampeter (1994-99) and Royal Holloway, University of London (1999-2010) before coming to UALR in the summer of 2010.

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