The 2020 census is underway and now is the time to make your mark and help ensure a positive outcome for the future. A seemingly small task can have a lasting impact and present unforeseen benefits. The National Urban League is spreading the word and encouraging everyone to do their part. Stand up and be counted!
Founded in 1910, The National Urban League is a historic civil-rights organization devoted to economic and social equality. Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, lends his expertise in a conversation with QG on the importance of being counted in the 2020 census. Morial also provides insight on how it specifically relates to people of color and compels active participation.
Could you provide some background information on the 2020 census?
We know the census happens every 10 years pursuant to the United States constitution is a count of all persons living in the United States. And its about money and power. The census is a count that’s used to determine districting lines for congress, state legislatures, city councils, judges, justices of the peace, and elected officials across the board. Secondly, data is used in order to distribute federal money, federal programmatic dollars like Medicaid, title one, school lunches, education, support for schools, medical support, and community development dollars. So it’s extremely critical.
When it comes to the Black and Brown community, why is it so important for them to fill out this questionnaire?
We can be marginalized in the number of seats in congress, state legislature and city council. When lines are drawn, they’re drawn based on numbers. So if you’re not counted then your power is going to be lessened. Orlando, Florida had a huge undercount in 2010. They figured out that because of the undercount, there were 7,000 children eligible and available for early childhood head start programs that were not served because the formula didn’t include those numbers in 2010. People were not served based on the count in 2010 to the present.
Why is participating in the census so important for the younger demographic?
There’s one census form per dwelling. If that’s your normal place of living as of April 1st then that’s where you should be counted. So, everyone doesn’t individually fill out a census form. You’ve got to fill the form out either online or fill out the one in paper form that comes to your house or speak to the census taker that comes to your door later in the year to be counted.
This determines the amount of federal money that comes to schools in America. You cannot take this lightly and think it does not affect you. We’re trying to get the message out to the community that it matters and it counts. Shame on us if we don’t seize the moment and recognize this is about equal rights. This is about our seat at the table. This is about our voice in the conversation.
How is the Coronavirus impacting the 2020 census analysis?
The original plan was you could only be counted if you were counted before the end of July. They’ve extended it to sometime in October. We’ve got to get the word out. We’ve got to impress on people why it’s important and our responsibility.
What is the National Urban League doing to support these efforts?
Our partner organization, The Black Coalition of Black Civic Participation has a Black youth census week coming up. We’ve focused on the Black male census and Black youth census week. We’re trying to do activations online through media at the grassroots level. We’re trying to build awareness. We’ve also hosted several large townhall meetings when we were talking about the census and promoted the idea of participating. We’ve pushed the census bureau hard to make sure they did what they had to do to extend the fences.
We’ve assembled a group called The Black Census Round Table. I share it along with Melanie Campbell. We’ve been working for about a year and a half on the census and census activation. The Black Census Round Table has all the civil rights groups, divine nine, the churches, and all of us involved in it.