Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement Has Dropped Considerably From Its Peak in 2020

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, ten years after #BlackLivesMatter first appeared on Twitter and a survey of U.S. adults, 51% support the Black Lives Matter Movement. Two-thirds of Americans expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement three years ago after the murder George Floyd.

When evaluating the impact of Black Lives Matter, 32% said it was highly effective in bringing awareness to racism against Blacks. A smaller share of Americans agree with the statement that increasing police accountability (14%) will improve the lives and race relations (8%) as well as improving the lives and race relations for Black people (7%) Overall, 31% say that they are extremely or very familiar with the goals of Black Lives Matter.

The views of Black Lives Matter vary according to:

White adults are more likely to support the movement than other racial and ethnic groups. White adults are more likely to label the movement divisive or dangerous than other races and ethnicities (four out of ten White adults, compared to 30% or less among other groups) and are least likely to call it empowering.

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Age: 64% support the movement among adults aged 18-29, compared to 52% for those aged 30 to 49. 46% are between 50 and 64, and 41% are 65 years and older. Fourteen percent of young adults (18 to 29 years old) said that the word empowering described the movement very or extremely well, and two-sevenths of them (27%) said the same for inclusive. This is a larger share than adults 30 and older. While 49% of young people say that the movement is highly effective in bringing racism to light, 32% say it’s true for those aged 30 to 49. 27% say it for those aged 50 to 64. And 22% say it for those over 65.

Partisanship: 84% Democrats and Democratic-leaning Republicans support the movement while 82% Republicans and Republican-leaning Republicans oppose it. Democrats are more likely to describe the movement as empowering (42% against 11%) or inclusive (27% against 11%) than Republicans. Republicans are more likely to describe the movement as dangerous than Democrats (59% vs. 9%) and divisive (54%, vs.19%).

The Center’s American Trends Panel conducted a nationally representative survey on 5,073 U.S. Adults from April 10-16 2023.

Other key findings of the survey

Most Americans have seen videos of police violence against Blacks in the media, on social networks or other places. Approximately nine out of ten Americans (88%) claim to have seen the videos. The majority of Americans across all age, race, ethnic, and political groups are in agreement.

Americans are divided on the impact of widely-shared videos of police violence. Some 45% of Americans say that the videos are widely shared on social media or in the news is a positive thing. 29% disagree, and 24% think it’s neither good nor evil. The majority (63%) believe that these videos are widely shared because it makes it easier for police officers to be held accountable. Nevertheless, 54% of respondents said that it made it more difficult for police officers do their job.

60% of those who watched videos showing police violence against Blacks say that this had a negative effect on their trust in police. A smaller but significant share of respondents say that this has negatively impacted their mental health and sense of security (both 48%). The majority of Black adults who watched these videos said that it had a negative effect on their mental health (63%)

Majority of Americans believe that the increased attention on race and racial inequalities over the last three years has not led to any changes that have improved Black lives. Four out of ten Americans say that the increased attention on these issues led to meaningful changes. Three years ago, the public was divided: 46% thought that the increased focus on these issues caused by the murder George Floyd wouldn’t lead to meaningful changes while 52% believed it would.

Two-thirds say that Black people are not treated as fairly by the police as White people. A smaller but still significant share of Americans say that Black people are not treated fairly when they apply for a mortgage or loan (50%), or when it comes to hiring, pay or promotions (50%), or when they seek medical treatment (44%), or when shopping or eating out (41%), or when voting at elections (37%). The views of Americans on this issue haven’t changed much since our last survey in 2020.

Majority of Americans (57%) believe that being Black makes it harder for a person to advance in the U.S. today. Americans are more likely to believe that being Hispanic, Asian or both hurts a person’s chances of getting ahead. In contrast, 60% of Americans say that being White is a good thing for a person to be able to succeed.

As with the Black Lives Matter Movement, opinions about the videos of police violence being widely shared against Black people and the treatment of Blacks in the U.S. vary by race and ethnicity.