Census Ambassadors will be visiting “hard-to-count” neighborhoods surrounding FAMU

Plans are underway in an effort to increase participation in the 2010 Census. On March 20, Census Ambassadors will be visiting “Hard-to-Count” neighborhoods surrounding Florida A&M’s campus and they need help from the student body.

These “Hard-to-Count” neighborhoods house many families, mostly minorities, opt to leave these important documents dusting on countertops. Their reasoning include either their distrust in the government, or their lack of knowledge of the importance of the Census. As a result, millions of dollars are lost that could be used towards hospitals, job training centers, and most importantly schools.

According to the 2000 Census, African Americans were the largest racial group undercounted, 628,000 missing persons to be exact. That number is almost equal to the entire population of African Americans in Tennessee. One possible cause for that occurrence in the 2010 Census is the damages done to families on the Gulf Coasts.

Disasters like Hurricane Katrina have left many families without a home and in transition to new ones. Census leaders, like Professor Juanita Gaston, are stressing to improve the undercount rate.

Professor 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 the kickoff. They will be promoting to raise 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 Diaspora participants. 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 filled out accurately and timely.

Census Ambassadors and volunteers will be going door-to-door convincing and informing 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 March 20, 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.