By Beverly Richards
Special to the AFRO
In an effort to mobilize and ensure Black communities are counted in the 2020 Decennial Census, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s (NCBCP) Unity Diaspora Coalition, National Urban League’s Black Census Roundtable, NAACP and over 40 national and state-based partner organizations have launched Black Census Week. “Black Census Week is an important initiative to make sure that we get a complete count in our communities,” said the Rev. Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore NAACP. “Each day of the week noted personalities focus on a subject area, like health, voting rights, environment and climate justice and talk about how our communities are better served in that area when we have a complete count. Especially now, in this time of social distancing and working from home, Black Census Week is an effective strategy for increased awareness and engagement.”
Black Census Week, March 23-29, is a seven-day social media initiative focused on promoting and encouraging the Black population (native and foreign born) to participate in the 2020 Decennial Census by being counted via online, phone and through the mail before April 1st, national Census Day. Minority and discounted communities, including African Americans, Black immigrants, LGBTQ+, children and the elderly, have been historically undercounted in past census counts. This historical undercount has led to millions of federal dollars diverted away from hundreds of programs that support Black America. National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton emphasized, “If we don’t participate, we can lose congressional seats. We don’t get the services we are entitled to. If we don’t participate, we become accomplices in the undercount. We will take ourselves off the grid.”
The Baltimore chapter of the NAACP is actively engaged in the digital campaign by sharing and calling individuals and organizations to action to keep the Census on Baltimore’s African American community’s radar and to encourage participation. “Even as we respond to the coronavirus and the state of emergency, we are urging our members and constituents to get counted. We are sharing information about the Census and engaging allies online to push everyone to participate. Given all that is going on in the world, we are encouraged by the response,” said Little.
“These are indeed trying times for our nation, as we endure the uncertainty of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and National Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable. “It is times like these that stress even more that each and every person needs to be counted so that we can receive the resources and assistance that are due for our communities. For that reason, we all must participate in the 2020 Decennial Census.”
A significant part of ensuring that resources get to where they are most needed and preventing the vulnerable, ofttimes the most marginalized, from being left behind is to turn out in full force to get a complete count. “Given this reality, the NAACP views Census advocacy as a key part of our coronavirus response,” said Little.
To complete your census information, fill out the form received in the mail, go to my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.