Gallup polling over the course of the last 50 years measures the trajectory of how blacks and whites view one another. Since Gallup started recording data on race relations in 1963, the trend has been an undeniably positive one.

In June of that year, respondents were asked “do you think that blacks have as good a chance as white people in your community to get any kind of job for which they are qualified?” Only 39 percent said that they were, while 48 percent said that they were not. The next time they asked that question, in June of 1978, that result had flipped with 67 percent of respondents saying that African-Americans were qualified for and had access to whatever opportunities they chose to seek while just 24 percent disagreed. Though the number has fluctuated throughout history, today between 71 and 79 percent of Americans think blacks have “as good a chance” as white people to have access to the career of their choice.

Another dramatic shift can be observed in how Americans think “civil rights for blacks have changed in this country.” In 1995, in the wake of the verdict in the trial of O.J. Simpson, only 32 percent of Americans said that civil rights for blacks had “greatly improved” while 51 percent said civil rights had only improved “somewhat.” In August, 2011, 50 percent said that civil rights for blacks had “greatly improved” with 39 percent qualifying that improvement with “somewhat.”

In 2011, a full 76 percent of Americans believe that “new civil rights laws” are “not needed” to advance racial equality. Just 21 percent said that they were – down dramatically from