Martin Luther King Day remains an important reminder of American civil rights in 2021

Photo by LeeAnn Cline on Unsplash depicting a street art wall with a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr and the quote, "They will not be judged by the content of their character." - MLK.

Martin Luther King Day remains an important reminder of American civil rights in 2021

75% of Americans say MLK day (Jan 18) is an essential holiday for remembering the importance of U.S. civil rights, according to a recent survey by Reputation Leaders. Most see Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy as not just a great speech but also a continuing commitment to civil rights.

The full report can be accessed for free here: Martin Luther King, Jr Day U.S. Pulse

A survey of 1,007 U.S. adults nationally found that 80% of Americans agree that civil rights are as important in 2021 as at any time in the last 30 years, evidenced by 3 in ten (29%) reporting they were personally and negatively affected by discrimination in 2020. Over half (53%) of those cited racial discrimination.

68% say that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that America still needs to address education, job, and health access inequalities faced by minorities.

More Americans thought that the workplace via HR was the right place to create and pursue racial justice than other options such as activism, politics, or the judicial system.

For employers, their commitment to diversity will impact the talent they can attract and retain in 2021. 88% who say their company has been and will be committed to diversity and inclusion are proud to work for their employer

45% of workers say this commitment would significantly impact or even be non-negotiable in deciding to work for a new employer. Employees with a workplace culture that is empowering and accepting feel most proud to work for their employers.

85% of workers were proud to work for employers who had acted to address racism in their organization. 28% of workers did not think there was any racism in their organization.

In 2021, half of American workers look to their employer to act on race and minority equality issues. Unfortunately, 45% of American workers do not expect their employer to make significant progress on diversity and inclusion issues in 2021. This affects how proud they are to be employed there.

79% of those who think their employer will make significant progress on diversity and inclusion are proud to be employed there compared with 53% who are proud of their workplace but expect no D&I action.


Using the ThoughtBite™ framework, Reputation Leaders ran a U.S. national online study from January 6-8, 2021, to explore American opinions on racism and discrimination. Interviews were conducted among 1,007 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, matching the U.S. demographic profile by age, gender, and region.

For more information on DE&I, Purpose, and Reputation, contact

 Reputation Leaders is a thought leadership and reputation consultancy that causes people to think differently about your brand. We specialize in thought leadership studies that help our clients lead on essential issues, build reputation, and earn media headlines.