Overcoming Racism, Prejudice Top Poll

ABC poll also identifies important people, milestones and New Year's Eve activities

An ABC News poll says that Americans think racism and prejudice are the biggest problems to overcome in the next millennium. Almost one in four thought living together in harmony will be hard and the main reasons for that was racism and prejudice said the 506 respondents. Racism and prejudice were chosen most often by whites as well as by blacks.

Other top challenges mentioned for the new millennium were pollution, violence and overpopulation. War, immorality and food shortages came next. The greatest hope for the new millennium is peace in the world, named by 38 percent, followed by the discovery of cures for dread diseases like cancer and AIDS, named by 13 percent.

The ABC poll was unusual in that it asked "open-ended" questions, which means people were able to offer whatever answers first came to mind rather than choose from a list.

The poll indicates most Americans think the coming of the new millennium will be just another new year. Six out of 10 think this is a new year like any other and one out of 10 won't even stay up to see the new millennium arrive. Two-thirds of those polled say they don't usually go out on New Year's Eve. Just over half, 54 percent say they don't plan to go out this year, while 38 percent say they will. Three out of four say they've made no plans yet for New Year's Eve.

When asked the greatest historical figures of the last 1,000 years, Americans tended to look close to home. Former presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were each named by 12 percent of those questioned. Martin Luther King Jr., former president John F. Kennedy and German dictator Adolf Hitler were next.

When people were asked the top figure in several different fields, these people got the most mentions:

-Medicine: Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine.

-Politics or government: Presidents John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln.

-Literature: William Shakespeare.

-Sports: Michael Jordan.

-Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

-Exploration: Christopher Columbus.

-Business: Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft.

-Science: Albert Einstein.

-Religion: Pope John Paul II, followed closely by Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.

-The military: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, followed closely by Gen. Colin Powell and Gen. George S. Patton.

-Entertainment: Bob Hope, followed closely by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and William Shakespeare.

Source: Associated Press

DATE: 10/5/99

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