U.S. adults are more likely today than three decades ago to view several forms of protest as potentially helpful for improving the situation of Black Americans. Since Gallup last polled on this subject in 1988, there have been meaningful increases in the percentages of Americans saying that nonviolent protest, violent protest and economic boycotts, in particular, can help. Opinions on the effectiveness of legal action are little changed.
Americans are still most likely to see nonviolent protest and legal action as being helpful, and least likely to say violent protest is.
Whereas Americans in 1988 were split on the effectiveness of economic action such as boycotts, they are now much more inclined to say it would help (50%) rather than hurt (22%) Black Americans' situation. Many companies publicly affirmed their support of the Black community after Floyd's death, but advocates for the Black Lives Matter movement called for boycotts of companies that do not support BLM efforts.
Black adults tend to be more optimistic than White adults that the various citizen actions tested in the poll would help improve the situation for Black Americans.
The two racial groups differ most in their opinions about the effectiveness of boycotts -- 69% of Black adults and 48% of White adults say boycotts would help. But White respondents are twice as likely to say boycotts are helpful rather than harmful.
Black Americans are modestly more likely than White Americans to believe legal action (74% vs. 65%, respectively) and violent protest (21% vs. 9%) can help. But majorities of both groups view violent protest as hurting the cause.