POLL says Oklahomans support desegregation at school, work

Monday, August 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A new poll says Oklahomans almost unanimously believe racial harmony is important, but that many are not sure their neighbors agree.

An Oklahoma Poll of 750 people statewide says 94 percent of Oklahomans support school integration and 97 percent believe it is very or somewhat important for ethnic groups to get along better.

But a third of respondents said they were not sure that other Oklahomans shared those views.

The poll, sponsored by the Tulsa World, was conducted during the last week of July and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

``It's possible the apparently inconsistent answers could indicate a lack of communication about race-related issues,'' said poll consultant Al Soltow. In general, he said ``the responses are fairly supportive of an encouraging attitude towards race relations.''

Blacks said they are more satisfied with current race relations than whites, and they were more supportive of diversity and integration. They were also more likely to answer questions dealing with race.

Fifty-six percent of blacks said people of different races in their community get along very well, and 37 percent said they get along OK.

Among whites, 38 percent said they get along very well, and 45 percent said OK.

Hannibal Johnson, a Tulsa author and lecturer with expertise in race relations, said the poll results were generally unsurprising.

``Fourteen percent said the races don't get along well or at all,'' he said. ``That's pretty high. Only about a third said they get along very well. That indicates there is room for improvement, although we are not on the brink of a crisis.''

The poll also found that fewer people approved of integrated neighborhoods compared to integrated workplaces, schools, sports teams or houses of worship. Statewide, 6.5 percent said they favored segregated living areas.

Conservatives were less than half as likely as liberals to say greater diversity improved their communities, but they were no more likely to say it made their communities worse. Conservatives were also more likely to say they believed members of different ethnic groups get along very well in their communities.