Black Leaders Urge Participation in 2020 Census

 Nick Hill, President of Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce (centered at microphone) giving notice to the community that Census Community Canvassers will be knocking at your doors. (Bakersfield News Observer Photo)
Nick Hill, President of Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce (centered at microphone) giving notice to the community that Census Community Canvassers will be knocking at your doors. (Bakersfield News Observer Photo)

By Darlene Williams, Contributing Writer

Bakersfield, Calif.—Efforts to educate and to increase the self-response rate of Kern County’s hard-to-count (HTC) populace for the 2020 Census got underway, Wednesday October 30, 2019 at the Martin Luther King (MLK) Center. Kern Complete Count Committee (KCCC) held a press conference at the center to “launch community canvassing efforts for the 2020 Census.” Wednesday’s event is one of several door-to-door community engagements scheduled to take place within the next 6 months prior to the April 2020 Census.

Nick Hill, President of Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, said, “We have certain areas in Bakersfield that everyone may not feel comfortable about going into, so therefore, we have to implore our social clubs and others that can infiltrate some of these areas that no one else would feel comfortable going into.

He stressed the importance of having Black representatives canvassing and outreaching in black areas.

”We have to make sure that we’re counted and that we have a complete count, Hill said.”Because if we lose one person, that’s $20,000 dollars that we lose in the African American community; that’s $20,000 dollars we lose for healthcare; that’s $20,000 we lose for education; it’s $20,000 that we lose for economic stability.”

Several KCCC representatives and trusted community members were on board for the 30 minute press conference and canvassing outreach: Camila Chavez, Executive Director of the Delores Huerta Foundation, Mai Thao, Regional Program Manager of California Complete Count Census 2020,Leticia Perez, Kern County Supervisor 5th District, Cindy Quezada, Senior Program Officer of the Sierra Health Foundation, Abel Lopez Sanchez, Community Worker of California Rural Legal Assistance, Naindeep Singh, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Jakara Movement, Valerie Gorospe, community Organizer of Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, and Sister Marie Francis Schroepfer, Associate Director of the Fresno Diocesan Social Justice Ministry and Nick Hill, President of Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce.

According to CA Census 2020 Region 6 fact sheet, the Black or African American population in Bakersfield is 5.1 percent. Many Blacks or African Americans residing in the city and surrounding areas live in Census tracts that are considered HTC areas. Check the percentage

Mai Thao, Regional Program Manager of California Complete Count Census 2020; under the leadership of Governor Gavin Newsom, stated, “Up to date, the state has invested up to $187 million dollars for outreach specifically to the hardest to count community members to ensure that all Californians are counted in the 2020 Census.”

Participation in Census 2020 is critical for HTC areas and is vital to receive the resources needed to build schools, roads, housing, healthcare, and other infrastructure in such communities. Every one person counted in the Census brings in $20, 000, over a 10- year period for that community.

The conference ended with one-on-one questions with KCCC representatives and other Census workers. KCCCs plan to canvass the surrounding neighborhood were delayed due to strong gusty winds and possible exposure to health risks.