COLUMBIA (WACH) -- When it comes to race relations, the issue isn't so black and white.
A recent nationwide Rasmussen phone survey shows 36 percent of voters relations between blacks and whites are getting better.
However, that's down from 62 percent in July of last year.
They are interesting findings despite major milestones.
In Columbia, the city's first black mayor was elected and sworn in this past spring.
On the national stage, the election of President Obama sits at the top of the list.
USC Professor Lacy Ford is an expert in 19th and 20th century southern history.
"There was enormous excitement among those Americans, African Americans and many other Americans about the election of the first black president in 2008," Ford explains.
"It was a historical event, but it did not translate into closing the disparity gaps among blacks as compared to whites in this country," disputes Urban League President J.T. McLawhorn.
McLawhorn says it will take more than historic elections to improve race relations, but the optimism they breed is understandable.
"I think this study is really consistent with other studies we have seen over the years that have given the perception we have made some quantum leaps in our society and I think the reality is for a moment there may be a surge in race relations things appear to be better," he adds.
"I think you shouldn't read too much into polls that are taken right around election time or larger questions on the direction of race relations because the answers to the questions are going to be heavily shaped by the political perception concerning the election," Ford says.
The poll may not be an accurate snapshot of race relations and some suggest it may not be all doom and gloom.
Ford says he doesn't think race relations is in a downward trend and that a two year window is too small to tell.
McLawhorn explains that it's going to take continued efforts on the part of people committed to social justice, and only then will everything come into focus.
The survey shows African Americans are more pessimistic than whites about race relations.
Then tell us what you think of the current state of race relations in South Carolina. Vote in the poll below and leave a comment to tell us what you think.