Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks, Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are among the most popular Black historic leaders with lawmakers on social media during Black History Month, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
The non-profit organization conducted the study over a two-year period and composed a Top 10 list of Black pioneers who lawmakers mentioned on posts on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
According to the study, during Black History Month in 2020 and 2021, Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was the single most-mentioned individual in lawmaker posts about Black History Month. The survey said 40 Democratic and Republican lawmakers mentioned Parks in this context in 2020, and 41 did so in 2021.
Vice President Kamala Harris drew 36 social media posts from Democratic lawmakers in 2021 but none from Republicans. In 2020, Harris did not make the list, but Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. drew 33 social media posts that year from Democrats and just four posts from Republican lawmakers.
In 2021 during Black History Month, King placed third behind Harris with 26 social media posts from Democrats and six from Republicans.
Rounding out the Top 10 are late Congressman John Lewis (21 Democrats), Black History Month Founder Carter G. Woodson (12 Democrats), Shirley Chisholm and President Joe Biden (14 Democrats each), Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass (8 Democrats) and Joseph H. Rainey (7 Democrats), who in 1870 became the first Black Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955, Parks, a secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, was tired as she rode a bus home from work. She sat in a seat reserved for white people and when the bus driver asked her to give up her seat to a white woman, Parks refused and was arrested.
The incident led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where Blacks carpooled to work and some rode Black-owned cabs. The boycott left dozens of buses idle for months and damaged the transit company’s finances. The boycott lasted 381 days; the city of Montgomery repealed its segregated laws on public buses.
Parks died in 2005 in Detroit. She was 92. She was the first Black woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
In addition to 2021, Parks was also at the top of the Pew Center Research 2020 list.
Approximately 36 Democrats mentioned her on social media during Black History Month that year. She was followed by King (33 Democrats), Johnson (21 Democrats), Douglass (17 Democrats), Maya Angelou (19 Democrats), Chisholm (16 Democrats), Reverend Hiram Revels (10 Democrats), Emmett Till (15 Democrats), Barack Obama (13 Democrats) and Harriet Tubman (10 Democrats).
The survey also found a growing number of Congressmen who mention historical figures to social media each February to commemorate Black History Month. On Facebook and Twitter, nearly two-in-three members of Congress (64 percent) mentioned Black History Month on Facebook or Twitter in February 2021, up from just 29 percent in 2015.
Previous research by the Pew Research Center has found that Democratic lawmakers are more likely than Republicans to mention the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on social media. According to the study, Democrats are also more likely than their GOP counterparts to discuss Black History Month on social media.
The Pew Research Center said that since 2016, a majority of Congressional Democrats posted messages on Facebook or Twitter posts recognizing Black History Month.
In 2020, 91 percent of Democratic lawmakers posted social media comments during Black History Month. That activity increased by 9 percent during this year’s Black History Month.
In comparison, the Pew Research Center said that since 2015, fewer than half of Congressional Republicans have mentioned Black History Month. Between 2020 and 2021 that activity increased from 29 percent to 36 percent.
Black Congressmen, most of whom are Democrats, in recent years have accounted for a combined 35 percent of Black History Month posts among Congressmen in February 2020 and 2021.
The Pew Research Center said in its posts about Black History Month, “celebrate” and “honor” were the most used substantive terms. Each word has appeared in 19 percent of such posts since 2015. Other common terms include “civil rights” (used in 12 percent of posts), “justice” (10 percent) and “equality” (8 percent).
In 2020, 91 percent of Democratic lawmakers posted social media comments during Black History Month. That activity increased by nine percent during this year’s Black History Month.
In comparison, Pew Research Center said that since 2015, fewer than half of Congressional Republicans have mentioned Black History Month. Between 2020 and 2021 that activity increased from 29 percent to 36 percent.