July 8, 2016

How Americans view the Black Lives Matter movement

The Black Lives Matter movement, which came to national prominence in the wake of the 2014 police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to gain attention following other incidents involving the deaths of black Americans during encounters with the police. A recent Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016, found that general awareness of Black Lives Matter is widespread among black and white U.S. adults, but attitudes about the movement vary considerably between groups.

Here are some key findings about Americans’ views of the Black Lives Matter movement:

1Roughly four-in-ten Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. All told, 43% support the movement, including 18% who strongly support it. About one-in-five Americans (22%) oppose the movement, and a sizable share (30%) said they have not heard anything about the Black Lives Matter movement or did not offer an opinion.

Support for Black Lives Matter is particularly high among blacks: 65% support the movement, including 41% who strongly support it; 12% of blacks say that they oppose the movement. Among whites, 40% express support, while 28% say they oppose Black Lives Matter.

2Among whites, Democrats and those younger than 30 are particularly supportive of Black Lives Matter. White Democrats are about as likely as blacks to express at least some support for the Black Lives Matter movement – about two-thirds (64%) do, compared with 42% of white independents and 20% of white Republicans.

Among white adults younger than 30, six-in-ten say they support the Black Lives Matter movement at least somewhat. About half (46%) of whites ages 30 to 49, and even fewer among those ages 50 to 64 (37%) and those 65 and older (26%), express support for the movement. It is worth noting, however, that about three-in-ten whites ages 50 and older (28%) say they haven’t heard anything at all about Black Lives Matter.

3About a third of Americans familiar with Black Lives Matter say they don’t understand the goals of the movement. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of those who have heard at least a little about Black Lives Matter say they understand the movement’s goals very or fairly well. Still, about a third (36%) of those who have heard about Black Lives Matter say they don’t understand its goals too well – or at all. Blacks who have heard at least a little about Black Lives Matter are far more likely than whites who have some general awareness of the movement to say they understand its goals very well (42% vs. 16%). About four-in-ten whites who have heard of Black Lives Matter (38%) say they don’t understand the movement’s goals particularly well.

4Blacks are more likely than whites to say the Black Lives Matter movement will be effective in the long run. About six-in-ten blacks (59%) believe that Black Lives Matter will ultimately be effective in bringing about racial equality. Whites are about evenly divided: 34% say the Black Lives Matter movement will be effective in helping blacks achieve equality, while 39% say the movement won’t be effective; another 26% either weren’t familiar with the movement or didn’t provide an opinion. Among blacks, skepticism about the effectiveness of Black Lives Matter may reflect broader skepticism about the future of racial equality in the U.S. Our survey found that fully 43% of blacks doubt that the U.S. will ever make the changes needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites. Some 11% of whites feel this way.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: African Americans, Race and Ethnicity, Violence and Society

  1. Photo of Juliana Menasce Horowitz

    is an associate director of research at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Gretchen Livingston

    is a senior researcher focusing on fertility and family demographics at Pew Research Center.

43 Comments

  1. Anonymous2 months ago

    All lives matter. I have very little respect for police officers for personal reasons. A lot of them are as guilty for commuting the same crimes citizens do. But their colleges have their backs. They use more force than needed

  2. Anonymous2 months ago

    I regret that the recent shootings of black men happened. I hope that those shootings are investigated and justice prevails. But my issue is with the Black Lives Matter Organization. If you look at statistics there is more black on black killings than police shooting black men. Why aren’t the Black Lives Matter Organization in those neighborhoods with high incidences of black on black killings telling them “Black Lives Matter”. Why aren’t they telling our young black men to show respect, don’t run, don’t resist arrest when dealing with police officers. Have them video tape themselves acting like a legal abiding citizen and justice will prevail. Unfortunately, most cities have high black on black crime areas. These are the areas that need the most help and Black Lives Matter should start with them. Yes, the police have some bad apples, but we need to be smart when we encounter those bad apples. If the police took one day off, there would be havoc. They are here to protect and serve which most of them do well.

  3. Bernard Davis2 months ago

    What’s the opnion on Black Lives Matter in Chicago, Obama’s home town in USA

  4. Laura Nguyen2 months ago

    Give this country 6 months, and I believe these percentages will change drastically.

  5. Anonymous2 months ago

    I wonder why the 300,000 aborted Black lives don’t matter

  6. Bernard Davis2 months ago

    Black lives matter, especially in Chicago!

  7. Anonymous3 months ago

    What is the breakdown by age/education?

  8. Anonymous3 months ago

    Whenever Ferguson is mentioned it is usually along these lines “2014 police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri,…”. This leaves the intended impression that a black teenager was shot down by a racist white police officer. The facts as discovered by both local & US Attorney General are that the “black teenager” was assaulting the officer. The officer was forced to shoot the assailant to prevent serious injury or death. If the then Attorney General couldn’t find anything to censure or charge the officer with then you know there was nothing to fault in his actions.

    1. Anonymous2 months ago

      Right on! And not only that. lets just say the police officer was not justified in shooting, where is the evidence that it was racially motivated? Oh wait logic and facts are so pesky.

    2. Anonymous2 months ago

      The concern is a trust issue. Most black americans don’t trust most police officers in addition to the US Attorney General Departments and/or the crimal justice system. Blacks which include very educated blacks suffer and/or. their family members continue to suffer unequal justice in America. The injustice based upon race (being black) is happening NOW ! This injustice is at their jobs, education system, housing, and simply going in/out of their homes going to the grocery stores, etc. If you havent walked the life of a black american you have no voice to speak on their suffering so STOP

      1. Anonymous2 months ago

        If you haven’t walked the life of a police officer…..STOP.

        1. Anonymous2 months ago

          if you haven’t a life of a dead man then stop or have a family member be killed then stop

      2. Anonymous2 months ago

        Of course they dont trust. Its everyone elses fault but their own. Its easier to point the finger then to accept that you failed.

  9. Anonymous3 months ago

    Frankly, I find the statistics of pro BLM supporters vs. opposition numbers to be more reflective of the divide between the generations and less about race relations. Increasingly there is a disconnect between youth and elders over differing values and moral premises. That’s quite telling in recent polls Pew has taken on a range of issues. We may be divided racially, but we’re a whole lot more divided on past societal norms and acceptable practices vs. today’s current beliefs.

  10. Anonymous3 months ago

    Personally I believe the Black lives matter movement is marginalizes every other race and simply say that only the African American race is always oppressed by the police force (who sometimes do profile but it makes all cops sound like racists and the system) but if you look at statistics for oppressed races in the United States Hispanics or Latin Americans and also Muslim or Islamic immigrants are the most oppressed people in the United States but I respect movement but it should be All Lives Matter or a human rights movement but you can’t deny that rap music and African Americans glorify the hood, drugs, gangs, and ect. I’m thirteen and I’m going off of facts and truth
    All Americans need to unite and make a All Lives Matter Movements or A fucking human rights movement
    Goodbye everyone and I hope you all have a good day ✌

    1. Anonymous2 months ago

      Your a very smart 13 year old, WoW I’m 36 and you took the words right out of my mouth! Good for you and your understanding of the truth!

  11. Anonymous3 months ago

    Would there even be a BLM movement if a proportionate amount of videos had been shown by the news media of whites and Hispanics over the same period of time? I doubt it but surely there must have been incidents with police resulting in the deaths of others who were not black over the same period. If so, it is possible that nobody thought it important to make a video or it is possible that interaction between blacks and police is more newsworthy.

  12. Anonymous3 months ago

    Just wondering… about the slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter”, etc. It seems to me that these slogans aren’t very good .. they tend to imply that the ‘intended’ statement is “ONLY (insert color) lives matter”. Of course, for most people that isn’t what they want to say. What they want to say (and should say) is “(insert color) lives matter too!”. In reality, ALL lives matter, but just saying that is response to “Black Lives Matter’ is a bit dismissive. Just an opinion.

    BTW – Pew surveys should include Asian-Americans (part of ALL Americans)

  13. Anonymous3 months ago

    PEW is grossly biased in many of their finding. Surveys are easily manipulated, and often are intended to sway public opinion. Research that doesn’t have a political purpose is difficult to fund unless the desired results follow. Actual votes cast during elections are the most accurate survey of the public’s view that’s available and all other prior polls and surveys are intended to influence those votes.

  14. Anonymous3 months ago

    this poll was conducted before Dallas. im sure the terror attack in Dallas would skew the pew (poll)…

    1. TheseNaturalCurlsAreThuggin3 months ago

      Well, please realize that the CHIEF OF POLICE IN DALLAS issued a report that stated the man in the attack was in no way associated with BLACKLIVESMATTER. He wasn’t apart of the movement, he was there to kill because wrong is wrong, bad is bad, and evil is evil; neither one of those three words have skin tones attached!

      1. Anonymous3 months ago

        Right. But do you believe that is the perception that most people will have?

      2. Anonymous3 months ago

        Your comment is incredibly in denial of the facts in this case. This guy’s self admitted intent was to kill WHITE police. Wake up.

      3. Anonymous2 months ago

        The shooter/killer in Dallas was not a member of BLM per se, and the Dallas BLM supported demonstration was by most accounts peaceful up until the shooting, however, the rhetoric of many BLM principals and members has often been openly encouraging of violence.

  15. Anonymous3 months ago

    Pro life radicals have shot/killed doctors and blown up clinics, tea party supporters are on record as race baiting /”birthers”.
    Moderates see BLM and Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as mostly peaceful. The fringe element anarchists who get media attention rioting don’t even come close to the graphic and violent nature nurtured by the conservative right wing.
    Blaming Dallas on BLM is like blaming Republicans for Dylan Roof, a lazy short answer for a complex question.

    1. Anonymous2 months ago

      Absolutely

  16. Anonymous3 months ago

    We will have Peace on Earth when we stop distinguishing between white vs black. Let’s change the title to “All Lives Matter” and then IF the police DO kill white or black people without justifiable cause, we prosecute them. Pam

    1. Anonymous3 months ago

      Pam- BLM is offended by the inherent “racism” of your suggestion to change it to “All Lives Matter.” Yes, your idea of prosecuting police officers who unjustifiable kill ANYONE has been tried and was successful for many years. However, BLM now feel that ANY death of a Black person by a cop, no matter how justified by FACTS and INVESTIGATION, is racially motivated, and can be nothing else. So, even when resisting arrest, and wrestling a firearm from an officer of the law, the officer is seen as “racist” and brutalizing black folk. Since Mr. Obama and the Liberal media support and encourage this false narrative which is not supported by facts, but must be true nonetheless, we are to believe it.

      Police officers are clearly running around the country shooting down innocent choir boys returning from Church Service. All lives don’t matter. Certainly not the 11 dead and wounded Dallas Officers; not the Missouri officer with a severed spine from thrown concrete block; not Darren Wilson whose life has been ruined since being cleared of unjustifiable homicide (he’s now unemployable and broke with a young family); nor the several other officers killed by blacks across the nation since Black Lives Matter began chanting about wanting dead cops.

      1. Anonymous2 months ago

        BLM is an organization. Organizations cannot be “offended.” Individuals can be offended.

      2. Anonymous2 months ago

        You are missing the point. Do you think all they care is about police disproportionately using lethal force on black people? No. It’s the everyday biases and discrimination black people have to live with. That’s something you and I will never understand, and something that data will probably never be able to accurately represent. If the sole black, Republican senator in our congress even has to appear on the floor and share his experiences of racial profiling in his own work place, than we obviously have much more work to be done.

    2. Anonymous3 months ago

      They say black lives because black ppl to this day are still enslaved and have been since the beginning of our time.

      1. Anonymous3 months ago

        I do not see this. I see numerous successful black people everywhere I go. I’ve been in the working world for 30 years and I have worked with wonderful leaders who happen to have black skin, but they are still successful. I could argue that women (like me) are still ‘enslaved’ but that is not true, either. Perhaps a person’s success depends more on their attitude and behavior than their color of skin.
        There was a time in this country when black people and women were treated like sub-citizens and were at the mercy of the white male, but times and policies have improved ten-fold and we need to focus on the here and now. Not that we should forget the past, but we should not live there, either.

  17. Anonymous3 months ago

    Why does it have to be “black lives matter, or Asian lives matter.” What about HUMAN LIVES MATTER. period. we are all people. we need to stop segregating ourselves by “movements” like this. Why is that so damn hard to understand!

    1. Anonymous2 months ago

      Absolutely.

  18. Packard Day3 months ago

    Imagine a Pro-Life or Tea Party political protest that employed the exact same rhetoric, violence, and social disruption tactics now used across the nation by the BLM movement.

    Then imagine how the MSM and our bi-partisan, Washington power elites might choose to characterize such behavior of those groups. Yes friends, we are witnessing in BLM today what was once called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

    Res ipsa loquitur…I guess.

  19. Elson Trinidad3 months ago

    Uh, what about us Americans who are neither white, black or Hispanic?
    I guess our opinions don’t count to you then.

    1. Anonymous3 months ago

      Nah

  20. Jeff He3 months ago

    Where do Asians fit on this chart?
    When can Pew start including Asians in surveys?
    As an Asian American, I always want to have my voice heard as well. Different from often sharp contrast between white and black Americans, many Asians are often somewhere in between on many issues. This phenomenon would make the spectrum of different opinions more complete.

    1. Bruce Drake3 months ago

      Here is a post related to your question The challenges of polling Asian Americans pewrsr.ch/1UT63UI

      1. Anonymous3 months ago

        Pew said “U.S. Asians are more likely than whites and blacks, but not Hispanics, to lack proficiency in English.There are some groups with lower English proficiency rates – such as Vietnamese and Chinese Americans – where this issue is particularly important.” Then so what if Asian Americans speak English well?

    2. Tyler Durdopolous3 months ago

      apparently asians do not matter

    3. Anonymous3 months ago

      I totally agree! All Americans should be included in this survey!!!

      1. Anonymous3 months ago

        Thank you!