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What to Know About the Census

April 1, 2019

Today marks exactly one year out from the 2020 Census – the official counting of the United States population, a constitutional requirement occurring once every ten years.

The decennial Census is a crucial facet of our Republic because its results serve as the basis for redistricting, the enforcement of voting rights laws, and allocating congressional seats to each state. Census population data is also used by the federal government to distribute billions of dollars to local, state, and tribal governments.

The Census is especially critical to communities of color as they are most susceptible to an undercount, and historically, they have been undercounted–legally.  Although a fair and accurate count is a constitutional mandate, African Americans have had to fight to receive fair or accurate representation. Dating back to 1787, The Three-Fifths compromise was established by lawmakers as a way to count the Black population. Essentially, it required states to only count three-fifths its slaves.

Many years later, while the Three-Fifths compromise is a thing of the past, African Americans and other populations of color still suffer from gross undercounts. What exactly does an undercount mean for these communities? It means that they will not be allocated the proper funding for schools, community centers, social services, public roads, transportation etc.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration continues to underfund and mismanage the Census process, laying the groundwork for a dramatic undercount that would dilute the political power of racial and ethnic minorities and deprive communities of color of critical federal funds.

None of us can just stand by and allow the Trump administration to use yet another tool to rip away funding from and diminish the political power of communities of color. 

Join the NAACP in calling for a free and fair count! We’ve already taken this administration to court on the basis that it is not preparing adequately for the 2020 Census, but now we need you to volunteer with us and help get the word out about the Census in your community.

Every American should be counted, and the NAACP will be at the forefront of making sure that happens.