FAMU Census makes it count

Plans are underway to increase participation in the 2010 Census. On Saturday, Census Ambassadors visited “Hard-to-Count” neighborhoods surrounding Florida A&M’s campus with help from the student body.

These neighborhoods house mostly minority families who tend to leave these important census documents to catch dust on the countertops. Some people don’t tend to fi ll them out because they distrust the government, or they don’t know the importance of the census.

As a result, millions of federal dollars are lost that could be used towards hospitals, job training centers and schools.

According to the 2000 Census, African Americans were the largest racial group undercounted, with 628,000 missing persons. That number is almost equal to the entire population of African Americans in Tennessee. One possible cause for discrepancies in the 2010 Census is the damages done to families on the Gulf Coasts. Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have left many families without a home and in transition to new ones.
Census leaders, such as Professor Juanita Gaston, are stressing to improve the undercount rate.

Gaston, director of the FAMU Census Information Center and associate professor of geography here at FAMU, has been working with the census since 1980. Gaston said “I enjoy working with the census.

It’s interesting to share this information with those uninformed. Plus, it adds another dimension to my teaching.”

Starting next week, Professor Gaston, along with the Census Ambassadors, will begin to recruit for March 20th’s kickoff. They will be raising census awareness by passing out forms along with census paraphernalia including bags, pins, water bottles and lanyards to
those who commit to participate in their effort.

The Census Ambassadors are motivating themselves using the slogan, “I count, you count, we count,” coined by Jesse Jackson and other African-American leaders.

Census forms will be distributed mid-March and their goal is to have them all mailed back by April 1 Their plan is to make sure they are fi lled out accurately and timely.

Census Ambassadors and volunteers will be going door-to-door trying to convince and inform the community on undercounted African Americans in the census. Training will be provided and is open to anyone.

For students or student organizations who are interested in participating in the census neighborhood canvassing project on Saturday or who would like additional information.

An orientation and training session will be held in Perry Paige Auditorium, Wednesday, March 3 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Contact Professor Juanita Gaston at 850-412-7545 or by e-mail juanita.gaston@famu.edu.

Her office is located in old FAMU DRS Room 205, directly across from the Writing Resource Center.