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Monday, June 7, 1999

Blacks, Other Minorities Are Urged To Participate In Year 2000 Census

More than 4 million people were missed in the 1990 Census. A disproportionate number were Blacks and other minorities and more than half of those missed were children.

That's why J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State and co-chairman of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, recently traveled to several U.S. cities to stress the importance of being counted in the 2000 Census.

He and board member Mark Neuman visited Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, the largest public housing development in the nation, during the first stop on the national grass roots awareness campaign.

"No child, no mother, no family living should be missed or forgotten when Census 2000 is completed next year," he said.

"Urban areas and inner-city neighborhoods such as Robert Taylor Homes were particularly very challenging to count. As an African-American who spent a significant portion of his childhood in public housing and as a former mayor of Cincinnati, I know firsthand the challenges we face in counting these areas."

He cited the Robert Taylor Homes as an example of how people are missed in the Census count.

The Homes is comprised of 4,321 units located in 28, sixteen-story buildings, where 99 percent of the residents are Black and 84 percent earn less than $ 10,000 a year. The 1990 Census Bureau only counted 8,787 people. The adjusted census would have added 673 persons to that count. Yet, a 1991 Statistical Profile by the Chicago Housing Authority estimated the population at 12,320 residents -- 3,500 more people than the Census count.

Blackwell urged Blacks to realize that the Census count determines how much federal money will be spent in a certain city for all kinds of programs.

"The Census is more than just a number. It is a tool used by many involved in solving problems of poverty and suffering. The outcome of the 2000 Census is too important to leave to an uncertain statistical adjustment when we have tools to count real people where they really live."

Blackwell believes the only way to get an accurate count is to have the community leaders and residents "who actually live in these neighborhoods" involved in the count. They know the people who live in their neighborhoods, he said.

The Census Monitoring Board is an eight-member bipartisan panel whose goal is to oversee the preparation and implementation of the 2000 Census.

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