By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
With the 2020 census nearing, a local grassroots organizations want to make sure everyone is counted.
The Committee to Save Jefferson County held a meeting on Saturday, Sept. 21 in the Five Points West Library to let everyone one know why being counted is important.
Census information determines the amount of money the state receives from the federal government to pave interstates, support Medicare and fund other programs in the state.
The census can affect the number of congressional seats in Alabama. If the turnout is the same as in 2000 Alabama will lose two congressional seats. If the turnout is the same in 2010 the state will lose one.
“[The census] affects people individually in terms of the services that they need created…it affects businesses, they rely on these…counts…to be able to make decisions about the businesses or the type of service that the community needs…this isn’t about anything political it’s really about resources and survival…on every level,” said Holli Holiday, senior political and data advisor for the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation.
Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson, who represents District 2, said it’s important to get the word out.
“We’re talking about from all of our African-American media to the churches, to the clubs, to the sororities, to the Boy Scouts…every type of social club and organization…we need to be involved in this. That’s the only way we’re going to get everyone counted,” said Tyson, who added the group will soon be in barbershops and beauty salons to make people aware.
She added that it’s best to ensure that people count their own communities, “people who they are familiar with and those are the resources that we are not using.”
The commissioner said CSJC intends to “make sure we [get] a map with every piece of Jefferson County, and we need a voting count in each one of those counties, and we need to go door to door,” she said.
Louis Willie, chief political strategist of the CSJC, said, “We want our efforts being coordinated, strategic, efficient and effective.”
Members of the group said they have to overcome skepticism in the black community.
Willie said, “We have a historical distrust of the government for very good reason…this historical distrust is a huge obstacle to overcome…there are some people that are going to be resistant to being counted because of very good reasons, and we have to somehow overcome that.”
By April 2020, households will receive an invitation to participate in the census count, which will officially begin on April 1, 2020, also known as “Census Day.” When completing the census, residents will note where they are living on April 1.
“The idea or hope is that they’re [the census bureau] planning I believe six rounds of mail…two in March , two in April  and basically two in May ,” Holiday said. “And then…they have not publicly released the day but somewhere…between the end of April and the beginning of May they will start doing the door to door enumeration.”