We’re getting closer to April, which means we are getting ever closer to our opportunity to leave our mark on history.
Since 1790, our Constitution has called for the counting of every person in our country. However, more than 200 years later, we are still unable to have a complete count in the Census, and communities of color are among those that are the most historically underrepresented. This year, I am working to ensure that every community is properly counted to receive the funding and representation they are owed as the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus 2020 Census Taskforce.
As part of that role, I hosted members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Chairwoman Karen Bass and Congressman G.K. Butterfield to show them our community, and how Census dollars can be used to help the families of Nevada.
One of the ways our community benefits from a complete Census count is through grant funding—and during the visit from my CBC colleagues, I hosted a luncheon to educate our local Las Vegas community on how to access grants for our state and our city.
We also met with folks at Three Square, an organization in our community that relies on federal dollars and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding to reach struggling individuals and families at risk of hunger. In 2019, they distributed more than 41 million meals, the equivalent of more than 50 million pounds of food and grocery products, through their community partners.
I also hosted a Census community meeting at Doolittle Senior Center to discuss the importance of the upcoming count with some of you. We were joined by Dr. Jeanine McLean of Fair Count, an organization dedicated to partnering with Hard to Count communities to achieve a fair and accurate count of all people in the nation in the 2020 Census, and to strengthening the pathways to greater civic participation. It was great to see the faces of every person who attended and be reminded of the people for whom we are ensuring an accurate count in April.
The Census also informs funding for our state’s infrastructure, so Chairwoman Bass joined me in hosting a conversation about the Congressional Black Caucus’ infrastructure priorities with local leadership in Las Vegas. We need new roads, new schools, and good-paying jobs, and funding for those come from a full, complete Census count. This conversation reaffirmed my commitment to working in Congress to produce an infrastructure plan that addresses our needs and trains the workforce that will rebuild our nation.
While I continue to host events around the importance of the Census, I’m relying on all of you to ensure that your friends, your families and your neighbors do their part and respond to the Census in April.
In 2020, projections by the Urban Institute indicate that 1.7 million black residents may be uncounted. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars and possible representation in our government that would be DENIED to the black community.
By standing up and being counted in the 2020 Census, you’re ensuring that our state has access to the funding it needs for our police and fire departments, our schools, our health care clinics, and Medicaid programs, and many other vital programs. YOU can make a difference in our community this year and respond to the 2020 Census, whether online, by mail or by phone.
You’ll start receiving a mail invitation to participate in the Census in March—but, for the first time, you’ll be able to respond to the Census online in addition to by phone and by mail. If you do not respond to the first invitation, you will receive a reminder postcard in the mail and may even be visited by an in-person Census taker.
This is your chance to not only shape YOUR future but the future of our fraternity, and the future of our country. I hope you’ll join me in participating in the 2020 Census.