Roper Center at Cornell University Debuts Historical Archives on Polling of Blacks

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has launched “Say Their Names, Hear Their Voices,” a publicly available collection of more than 80 years of public opinion surveys of Black Americans and U.S. attitudes about Black America.

The Roper Center’s historical overview explains that early polling roughly from 1936 to 1947 largely excluded the views of Black Americans. Gallup polls sought the opinions of voters for example at a time when Blacks were systematically disenfranchised. When they were surveyed Blacks often were categorized only by race without economic status while Whites were grouped by income levels. From the 1930s to the 1960s some polls inquired directly about racist beliefs such as whether Blacks were as intelligent as Whites or if their blood was different.

The collection highlights notable surveys from the Roper Center archives featuring Black American opinion since World War II, U.S. government surveys of other countries’ perspectives on race in America, and links to the race-related reports published by the center and other sources.

“We hope this collection advances historical knowledge, amplifies Black public opinion, and proclaims Black Lives Matter,” said Peter Enns professor of government in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell and executive director of the Roper Center


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