Diseases of the pancreas (i.e. chronic pancreatitis, diabetes and pancreatic cancer) disproportionally affect the African American community. Challenges associated with engaging the African American community in biospecimen research are longstanding. We surveyed a number of pancreas-related biobanks and data repositories for African American representation. While some of the biobanks and databases surveyed contain biospecimens and data from African American donors at levels that reflect minority representation among the general population, others do not. A number of factors have historically contributed to reduced participation of the African Americans community in biospecimen donation including medical mistrust, lack of transparency, fear and a poor knowledge and understanding about the use of biospecimens for research. Suggestions for increasing African American participation in organ and biospecimen donation include educational interventions, particularly in community groups, and providing printed and online recruitment materials to patients, patient advocates and care partners. Increasing awareness of the many benefits of biospecimen donation among African Americans will positively affect health disparities research into pancreatic cancer and other diseases.