Washington Report

Dispatches from Capitol Hill

Black Leaders Urge a More Accurate Census Count

large_2010 Census HandSeveral African American leaders met with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Wednesday to express their concern about minorities being undercounted in the 2010 Census. National Urban League President Marc Morial, who also chairs the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, said that the 2000 Census undercut minorities by 3%.

“That undercount is one part of the story. The other part of the story is that there was an overcount of the country’s white population,” Morial said. He and other leaders want to ensure that such mistakes won’t be repeated because census statistics are used to determine democratic representation in terms of political districting and to calculate the allocation of more than $400 billion in federal funds.

Other black leaders who attended the meeting include Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri); Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; NAACP President Ben Jealous; the Rev. Al Sharpton; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Morial said that both the Obama administration and the Commerce Department have pledged additional dollars and increased efforts to count hard-to-reach communities, but he and other leaders believe much more is needed. The group recommended that prisoners be included in the counts in their hometowns rather than where they are being held and also stressed the need to make significant media buys in the hard-to-reach urban communities.

The post-meeting press conference can be viewed here.

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