Support for Black Lives Matter movement lowest in 3 years
Why it matters: A slim majority of Americans (51%) still back BLM, but the movement aimed at tackling systemic racism has seen a sharp drop in support amid a conservative backlash — and reports of infighting and financial mismanagement of fledging BLM groups.
Zoom in: The support for BLM found in the survey by the Pew Research Center is a massive decrease from June 2020 — during the height of the protests over Floyd's death.
- At that time, two-thirds of Americans said they supported the movement.
- Meanwhile, opposition to BLM has grown. About 46% of Americans surveyed said they oppose it; just 31% said so three years ago.
Flashback: Video footage of Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis officer was shared on social media and sparked millions of people to protest in cities across the nation during the peak of the pandemic.
- The demonstrations created momentum for a range of changes aimed at correcting racist policies.
- More than 160 Confederate statues were removed across the nation, schools' names were changed, some brand names changed logos, and there were calls for sweeping police reforms.
Zoom in: Some of the changes — including increased recognition of LGBTQ rights — led to a conservative backlash that permeates the nation's politics today.
- Now, deep divisions along political party, race and generational lines have shaped views of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- The Pew survey found that 84% of Democrats and Democratic leaners support the movement, while 82% of Republicans and GOP leaners oppose it.
- About 81% of Black adults say they support the movement, compared with 63% of Asian American adults, 61% of Latino adults and 42% of white adults.
- About 64% of adults ages 18 to 29 support the movement, compared with 41% of those 65 and older.
Between the lines: After former President Trump's election loss in 2020, conservative activists launched a coordinated campaign against "critical race theory" by falsely claiming the graduate-school-level concept was widely taught in grade schools.
- That led to school board recalls, book bans and new state laws limiting the discussion of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Rising crime also shifted attention away from police ref0rm, as Republicans accused Democrats of supporting those who chanted "defund the police" during Floyd demonstrations.
The intrigue: A coalition of Black Lives Matter chapters last year sued the BLM Global Network Foundation over allegations of defrauding the local activist groups.
- BLM leaders came under criticism last year for buying a $6 million home in Southern California with donated funds.
What they're saying: "The idea that we have 400 years of oppression and all of a sudden we're going to steamroll ourselves into utopia... it's just not a reality," Rashad Robinson, president of the advocacy group Color Of Change, told Axios.
- Robinson said opponents of racial justice are well-funded and will try to protect the status quo.
- "They just needed to fight to keep things the same. We had to fight to change."
Methodology: The Pew Research Center survey of 5,073 U.S. adults was conducted April 10-16, 2023, using the Center's American Trends Panel.
- The margin of sampling error is +/- 1.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.