Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults believe that civil rights for Black Americans have improved in their lifetime, the bleakest assessment Gallup has measured to date. Americans' views of civil rights progress began to sour in 2015 after several cases involving Black men being killed by White police officers gained national attention. The trend accelerated this year after the deaths of George Floyd and others.
Gallup first asked about Black civil rights in 1995, at which time 83% believed things had improved. By 2011, during Barack Obama's first term as president, a high of 89% held this view, including 50% who believed civil rights for Black Americans had "greatly improved."
Less than a decade later, 19% of Americans believe civil rights have greatly improved for Black adults, 40% say they have somewhat improved, 22% believe they have stayed the same, and 18% say they have worsened.
These results are based on a June 8-July 24 Gallup poll of more than 1,200 U.S. adults, including an oversample of 300 Black Americans. The survey was conducted amid ongoing protests for racial justice after Floyd's death, but before the recent police shooting that left Jacob Blake paralyzed in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Both White and Black Americans are less likely now than in the past to think that civil rights have improved. Currently, 65% of White adults and 52% of Black adults hold this view, down from 77% and 69%, respectively, in 2016.