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Black Optimism About Future Echoed In Washington

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By Angie Das

The number of black Americans who are optimistic about the future has nearly doubled since 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. It recently reported that the increased optimism is largely due to the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.

The survey found that 54 percent of blacks believe President Obama has improved race relations and it reported the percentage of black Americans who believe they are better off now than they were five years ago increased from 20 percent to 39 percent.

The Pew telephone survey on race was conducted from October 28th through November 30th of last year. The numbers, however, also suggest that the majority of blacks surveyed believe they are either no better off or possibly even worse off today than in 2007.

But 53 percent said they expect their life will be better in the future than it is now and when WAMU News asked some black Washingtonians to weigh in, their opinions reflected those findings.

"I hope that’s the case," said Washingtonian Aaron Cunningham, "but I don’t think that’s something that’s going to change overnight. I think we still have a lot of work to do, but I think we’ll get there." Cunningham also said he hoped that people would be willing to have more open conversations.

James Pete, a veteran and 30 year resident of the District said, "I’m glad to see a black president before I leave this earth, I never thought I’d see it in my time."

Esther Margai says she is more optimistic today because Barack Obama was elected to the nation's highest office. "It was something that was more of a dream than reality," she said, "It does, I would say, really give you this other perspective that dreams do come true and that the impossible can be possible."

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