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Black America & Public Opinion

As we reflect on racism and anti-racism, the Roper Center continues to identify and make available all public opinion surveys of Black Americans in the Roper data archive. We highlight these surveys of Black Americans, dating back to 1945, to remember and amplify the voices of these individuals. We have also made available more than eight decades of public opinion data on how the U.S. public views Black America. These data provide historical insight into how racial attitudes have changed in the United States and how the public currently views topics such as police brutality, race relations, and social movements for racial equality. We are making all of this data, which can be accessed below, freely available to the public. If you are not a Roper Center member, contact Data Services to request access.

We are also partnering with the Cornell Center for Social Sciences to convert public opinion surveys of Black Americans during the 1970s from column binary (based on IBM punch cards) to modern data formats. Because these data have been stored in column binary format, which is incompatible with modern statistical software, the views and opinions of these individuals have been concealed for more than 40 years. To protect respondents, the survey data are anonymous, but the role of public opinion polling has always been to provide a voice to the people. This project will help ensure that today’s scholars and future generations remember these voices.

The historical overview below also recognizes the pioneering survey research of W.E.B. Du Bois, periods when survey research omitted or minimized the voices of Black Americans, and U.S. government surveys of other countries which aimed to assess international awareness of segregation and oppression in the United States. We hope this collection advances historical knowledge, amplifies Black public opinion, and elevates the voices of those who have been oppressed.

-The Roper Center Staff

Non-comprehensive list of deaths at the hands of police in the U.S. since Eric Garner's death in July 2014 from NPR's A Decade of Watching Black People Die.

Photo Credits: Black Lives Matter Protest in Richmond, Virginia June 2020. Credit: (Scott Elmquist/Virginia Media). George Floyd Death Protester, Photo Credit: AP; Photographer: Jerry Holt.  W.E.B. DuBois, Credit: Cornelius Marion (C.M.) Battey (1873–1927) / Public domain.  Marion Anderson, Credit: University of Pennsylvania.

The Roper Center is grateful for the contributions and partnership with the Cornell Center for Social Sciences. Click their logo to learn more about CCSS.

Cornell Center for Social Sciences