PA Black Voters Advocate for More Black History, Oppose Book Banning, Poll Shows

A recent poll conducted by USA TODAY/Suffolk University reveals strong opinions among Black voters in Pennsylvania on the issues of book banning and the teaching of African American history.

The poll, which surveyed 500 Black voters from Pennsylvania and Michigan, found that a significant majority oppose banning books from public school libraries and overwhelmingly support the inclusion of African American history in school curriculums.

Key Findings on Book Banning and Black History Education

According to the poll, nearly 70% of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed the banning of certain books in schools. Additionally, an overwhelming 96% supported the teaching of African American history. These results highlight a clear preference among Black voters for a more comprehensive and inclusive educational system.

Rising Concerns Over Book Banning

The issue of book banning has become increasingly prominent, driven by groups like Moms for Liberty, which advocate for greater parental control over school curriculums and library resources.

Pennsylvania has been identified as one of the leading states in attempts to ban books since 2021, according to organizations such as PEN America and the American Library Association.

Many of the books targeted for removal address topics like systemic racism and LGBTQ issues, drawing significant controversy and criticism from various advocacy groups.

Voices from the Community

Nathan Grace, a 36-year-old city planner from Philadelphia, plans to vote for President Joe Biden. Although book banning is not his primary concern, he acknowledges its potential impact.

“I get pretty irate,” Grace said, emphasizing the importance of Black representation in literature and accurate historical education. He sees book banning as an attempt to whitewash history, which he finds deeply problematic.

Sammy Walker, a 55-year-old resident of Pittsburgh, shares similar concerns. Growing up in Texas, Walker had access to a variety of books about Black historical figures, which he believes is essential for understanding the past.

He likens modern book banning efforts to historical instances of censorship, such as Nazi book burnings, and fears the consequences of erasing important historical narratives.

Political Implications and Voter Priorities

The poll also indicates a preference among Black voters in Pennsylvania for President Biden over former President Donald Trump. David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, noted that Black voters are largely opposed to classroom censorship.

“Black voters don’t want the classroom to be a filter of any kind against any people,” Paleologos said, highlighting the deep opposition to censorship within this community.

A Call for More Inclusive Education

The support for teaching African American history is seen as a critical step towards creating a more inclusive and accurate representation of history in schools. Many Black voters believe that understanding the contributions and struggles of African Americans is essential for fostering a more informed and empathetic society.

Nathan Grace’s Perspective

Nathan Grace, the city planner from Philadelphia, explained that while book banning is not a primary concern for him, it is an issue that he believes could have significant implications.

He described his frustration with efforts to ban books that provide Black representation or portray the historical realities faced by African Americans. Grace emphasized the importance of these books in offering an accurate and comprehensive view of history.

Sammy Walker’s Concerns

Sammy Walker, who has been a resident of Pittsburgh for 20 years, expressed his worries about the increasing calls to remove certain books from libraries.

Walker recounted his experience growing up in Texas, where he had the freedom to explore a wide range of literature about Black historical figures. He stressed that removing these books from libraries could lead to a dangerous erasure of history, drawing parallels to historical instances of censorship.

The Impact of Censorship on Education

Both Grace and Walker highlighted the broader implications of book banning on education. They argued that censorship could lead to a sanitized and incomplete version of history being taught in schools, depriving students of the opportunity to learn about diverse perspectives and experiences.

They called for a more inclusive approach to education that acknowledges and celebrates the contributions of all communities.


The USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll sheds light on the priorities of Black voters in Pennsylvania, particularly their strong opposition to book banning and their support for teaching African American history in schools.

As the election approaches, these issues are likely to play a crucial role in shaping voter preferences and influencing educational policies in the state.

The voices of community members like Nathan Grace and Sammy Walker underscore the importance of preserving access to diverse literature and ensuring that history is taught in a comprehensive and inclusive manner.

By addressing these concerns, Pennsylvania can work towards a more informed and equitable educational system that benefits all students.

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