The statue of Confederate Maj. Gen. John Brown Gordon, who later became a U.S. senator and governor of Georgia, appears to ride into the an uncertain and modern future, still clad in his military uniform. Gordon was also head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia after the Civil War. CHRIS HUNT/SPECIAL

Blacks and whites in poll have wildly different views of the South

A new poll of the 11 states of the Old Confederacy finds that, on many key issues, black Southerners and white Southerners appear to live in two different versions of the South.

The Winthrop University Poll, released Wednesday, comes amid a new season of racial polarization in the country, from national political debate down to local governments’ decisions on Confederate monuments.

Illustrations of the gulf between the races emerged from the poll: 

  • To the question of whether economic conditions in the country are getting better or getting worse, 63 percent of whites said better; 63 percent of blacks said worse.
  • 61 percent of white people believe all Americans have an equal chance to succeed if they work equally hard. 67 percent of blacks believe that is not the case.
  • 82 percent of black Southerners believe racial minorities are under attack in America today; 46 percent of whites said it is they who are under attack.  

The poll surveyed 830 residents by phone in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The margin of error among white respondents was 4 percent; among black respondents, it was 7.7 percent.

The survey also found sharply diverging views among black and white Southerners about what do with monuments to Confederate war heroes.

Forty-eight percent of white Southerners believe such monuments should be left “just as they are.” 

Forty-eight percent of black respondents, however, said the monuments belong in a museum. 

The numbers diverge even more sharply from there: only 14 percent of blacks thought the monuments ought to be left where they are. But only 3 percent of whites believed that the monuments should be “removed completely” — compared to 25 percent of black respondents.

Other key findings: 

  • 71 percent of whites agreed that “political correctness threatens our liberty as Americans to speak our minds.” But 67 percent of blacks thought so, too.
  • 37 percent of whites think the country is on the right track; 6 percent of blacks think that’s the case. 

Note:  Commenting on this article is being moderated by AJC editors. 

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