Voting Is Key to Racial Equality, Pew Research Center Study Reveals

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. 1963

“Black Resistance,” the national theme for Black History Month 2023, is a reminder of the ongoing fight against racial inequality. In a new study by the nationally respected Pew Research Center (PRC), 63 percent of Black adults indicated that voting was a key strategy for moving toward equality. Less than half of poll respondents (42 percent) placed protesting in that same category. Only Black Americans age 65 and over consider protests a preferred tactic. Supporting Black-owned business and Black-led communities were also ranked as effective remedies for inequality. Contacting elected officials was considered the least effective tactic among those offered.

Not unexpectedly, PRC’s study revealed that Black Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more likely than Black Republicans and Republican leaders to say that progress by Black Americans is linked to voting. Black historian and journalist Carter G. Woodson first imagined Negro History Week (now Black History Month) in 1926 in an effort after emancipation from slavery to recognize Black achievements. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, also founded by Woodson, selects the month’s theme each year.

From slave rebellions during the colonial era and the Civil War to protest movements beginning in the 1950’s, the resistance by Black Americans to racial inequity has deep roots in U.S. history, according to PRC. In an effort to begin balancing the scales of freedom, Black Americans built institutions to support their communities including churches, colleges and universities, printing presses and fraternal organizations. “These movements and institutions have stressed the importance of freedom, self-determination and equal protection under the law,” says PRC. 

Improving lives through social change has always been a clear vision of Black Americans. PRC’s recent analysis is part of a larger project that aims to understand American’s views of racial inequity and social change in the U.S. This portion of the overall study surveyed 3,912 Black American adults including those who were single-race, non-Hispanic Black Americans, multiracial non-Hispanic Black Americans and adults who indicated they were Black and Hispanic. Panelists were recruited by both phone and mail to ensure that nearly all U.S. adults who qualified had a chance to participate.  

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