Ray Block


Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies


  • Civil Rights
  • Politics & Policy

Focus Areas:

  • Diversity
  • Social Justice Movements
  • American Politics
  • Elections
  • Politics
  • Voting Behavior


  • Block co-authored the book "Losing Power: African Americans and Racial Polarization in Tennessee Politics," which looks at how modern Tennessee emerged as a more racially and politically divided state.
  • He recently published a chapter in the book "President Trump's First Term: The Year in C-SPAN Archives Research, Volume 5" that explores the oral histories of African Americans who support the president.

Ray Block is an associate professor of political science and African American studies and Brown-McCourtney Career Development Professor in the McCourtney Institute. Block specializes in racial and ethnic group politics, voting behavior, and public opinion, and his research focuses on minority groups voting dynamics, racial norms in elections, and the role of political orientation and racial identity in supporting a political candidate. He serves as co-chair of the public opinion and political participation section of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and is part of a team of academics, practitioners, and analysts known as the African American Research Collaborative. He is also a member of several professional organizations including the American Political Science Association and the Society for Political Methodology.

In The Media

"Although media coverage often focuses on the Confederate statues that have been removed, this obscures the bigger story: the ones that remain. In fact, less than 10 percent of Confederate monuments — 139 out of 1,880 — have been removed. Why are so many still standing? Our research helps provide the answer."

"As Democratic primaries continue to unfold, the nominating process moves to a battleground with a much larger African American population. Black people comprise nearly 60 percent of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, making it an important stop along the campaign trail for candidates seeking to gauge – and court – the support of black voters. It remains to be seen whether this change in demographics will make the issues and concerns of African Americans more central to the campaign. But one thing is clear: the candidate who wins the Palmetto State will be the one that does the best job of recruiting black women."

Asset Downloads

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"Losing Power," co-written by a Penn State researcher Ray Block Jr., associate professor of political science and African American studies at Penn State, investigates how modern Tennessee emerged as a more racially and politically divided state between 200


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