San Diego (CNN) - Provocative issues regarding race will be on display at the largest gathering of African-American journalists on Thursday. This comes as two-thirds of blacks say they have been victims of racial discrimination, in a fresh CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, and a growing number say that racial tensions between blacks and whites will always exist.
Thousands of producers, editors, reporters, media executives and others are attending The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in San Diego, which ends on Sunday. The annual gathering is a venue for journalism education and career development and provides networking opportunities for assembled media professionals.
It will also serve as a forum on an issue that continually inflames passions or stokes tension: race relations between minorities and whites.
Ousted USDA staffer Shirley Sherrod spoke at the convention Thursday and indicated she would sue the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart - the man responsible for posting an edited video clip of Sherrod appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance. The NABJ said it had invited Breitbart to also attend the gathering and that the conservative blogger initially accepted, but later declined.
A recent video posted by Breitbart, that was selectively edited, alleged to show Sherrod as admitting to racial discrimination in helping a white farmer. But the full context of Sherrod's March speech at an NAACP event vindicated her. President Obama apologized to Sherrod and the USDA offered her the chance to return to the agency.
Also at the NABJ on Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele - the first African-American to lead the GOP - will take questions.
A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that more blacks have grown pessimistic about racial discrimination and race relations.
In the poll, 64-percent of African-Americans say they have been the victim of racial bias. 57-percent of all Americans believe that is a serious problem. But that number is far higher among blacks, with 80-percent saying that racial discrimination is a serious issue.
Equally troubling, more blacks now say there will never be an end to racial problems with whites.
In the poll, 59-percent of blacks say relations with whites will always be a problem. But that number is 14-points higher than just over a year ago. In May of last year, during the Obama administration's early days, just 45-percent of African-Americans felt that racial problems with whites would never cease.
"There is a big gender gap among African-Africans on this question," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Black men are evenly divided over whether the country will find an answer to its racial problems. Two-thirds of black women say that race relations will always be a problem."
Many people who will watch Sherrod's appearance at the NABJ convention are anxious to know if she will accept the USDA's offer to return to the agency after she was forced out. Another question swirling over the event: how her being an African-American played into the controversial episode.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned. A special sample of 308 African-Americans and 303 Hispanics were interviewed for this poll. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.