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BLACK IN AMERICA 2: Views of African-Americans Softening on Key Political, Cultural, Economic Issues




CNN/ESSENCE/OPINION RESEARCH CORPORATION Poll Offers Insights to Views of African- Americans and Whites on Key Political, Cultural, Economic Issues

CNN, Essence Co-Produce Reclaiming The Dream Special at 15th Annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans

In advance of CNN’s multiplatform Black in America 2 initiative, ESSENCE magazine and Opinion Research Corporation today announced the results of a poll of African-Americans and Whites that reveals contrasting views on presidential politics, the economy, gay rights, abortion and racial discrimination – the poll showed a softening of optimism for both races in regards to the effect of President Barack Obama’s election on race relations in the U.S.  


In this poll, while 51% of African-Americans and 31% of Whites polled in mid-November 2008, felt that the country had entered a new era in race relations, just before President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, those numbers had declined to 44% of African-Americans and 25% of Whites.  By May 2009, 44% of African-Americans still felt that way, but among Whites that ratio had declined further to 19%.

Other highlights of the poll include:

  • African-Americans showed extraordinary confidence in the president’s handling of his job (96% of African-Americans, vs. 58% of Whites approve of his job as president). 

  • Opinions on racial discrimination as “a very serious problem” vary widely as well, with 55% of African-Americans finding it to be a serious problem versus only 17% of Whites.

  • Regarding the economy, only 51% of African-Americans feel financially secure enough to provide sufficiently for their children versus 69% of Whites.  Yet, 86% of African-Americans expect their children will be better off than themselves versus 59% of Whites.

“The insights provided by this latest poll around issues of importance to the African-American community help to inform our editorial and programming decisions,’’ says Angela Burt-Murray, Editor-in-Chief, ESSENCE. “Notably, we are looking forward to addressing these racial disparities via our latest co-production with CNN, Reclaiming the Dream 2, which will offer a productive dialogue among the country’s top thought-leaders.”


Moderated by CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, and featuring CNN ContributoRoland Martin, the program will include insights and experiences from  Essence Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray; NAACP President & CEO Ben Jealous; actor/radio talk show host/author Steve Harvey; humanitarian & founder of the Angel Rock Project Malaak Compton-Rock; actor and radio talk show host Holly Robinson Peete; TV personality Judge Penny Brown Reynolds; actor and AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph; principal of Capital Prepatory Magnet School Steve Perry; and founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute Phill Wilson.  Data from the poll will also be analyzed in the program.  Produced as part of the CNN “Black in America 2” initiative, the two-hour CNN/ESSENCE co-production, Reclaiming the Dream, is an exclusive town hall debate that will be filmed on-site at the 2009 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, and will premiere on Saturday, August 1 at 8p.m. and 11p.m.  The special will repeat on Sunday, August 2, also at 8p.m. and 11p.m. (All times Eastern). 


“CNN is very pleased to once again collaborate with Essence Communications and Opinion Research Corporation in support of Black in America 2,” said Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions, “and our partnership with Essence continues to bring unique substantive insights toour programming initiatives.”


The research methodology for this poll included telephone interviews conducted in May 2009 with 505 interviews among African-Americans and 501 non-Hispanic whites.  The margin of sampling error for both groups is plus or minus 4.5%.

About Black in America 2

This landmark initiative includes two, two-hour documentaries that examine the programs and progress of leaders around the country that are working in ways large and small to make positive change, as well as CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream.  A dynamic digital special profiles the migration of African-Americans throughout the country’s history and factors impacting the dramatic demographic shifts.  Additional investigative reports examining pressing issues for African-Americans are also available now on and will also devote in-depth analysis of the CNN/ESSENCE/Opinion Research Corporation poll.  The documentaries, Today’s Pioneers and Tomorrow’s Leaders, will debut on July 22 and July 23 at 8p.m. and 11p.m. ET/PT. 


Black in America 2 is produced by CNN Productions and filmed in high definition.  Mark Nelson is the vice president and senior executive producer.  Jeffery Reid is executive producer for the documentaries; Jeff Kepnes is senior producer for Reclaiming the Dream; Jody Gottlieb is the executive director for CNN Productions.  The documentaries will be available on iTunes following the premiere.

About CNN Worldwide

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.

About Essence Communications, Inc.



Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the leading media and communications company dedicated to African-American women.  With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is “Where Black Women Come First”.  The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I & II) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 39 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a readership of 8.1 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. 


Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at

Images and the full poll results are available at


Dana Baxter                           ESSENCE                                  212.522.1634     

Jennifer Dargan                    CNN                                   404.885.4638                     

Erica Puntel                          CNN                                   404.827.1657   

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