August 9th marks exactly a year since police officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed balck teenager Michael Brown. The months that followed brought a spate of high-profile police shootings of black Americans, and with them, a substantial shift in Americans’ attitudes toward race, the Pew Research Center reports.
In a survey released this week, the nonpartisan fact tank states that a growing number of Americans view racism as “a big problem in society,” with roughly 60 percent saying the country needs to continue making changes to achieve equality. This is a significant increase from previous surveys in the last six years, which showed that public opinion was much more closely divided on that question. In those surveys, a majority of whites consistently said the country already had already “made the changes needed.”
While there are still clear partisan divides on the issue of racial equality–Republicans are less likely than Democrats to hold the view that change is necessary–a large portion of this shift in attitude comes from white Republicans. Pew found that the share of Republicans who say the country needs to implement more changes has grown 15 percentage points in the last year.
A large racial divide remains in these views. Up from only 40 percent last year, 53 percent of whites say more needs to be done to achieve racial equality; Large majorities of African Americans have consistently said changes must continue to be made–although the share saying this has increased slightly, to 86 percent this year.