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MLK Holiday Gives Albany a Chance to Relate Census with Equal Rights

The holiday honoring Doctor Martin Luther King Junior might be a good time to focus on hearing every voice by getting a complete census count.  That’s exactly what Governor Andrew Cuomo said when announcing more funding support for the census here in New York – evoking King’s legacy.

“He was one of America’s great voices in terms of freedom, justice and equality, as you all know.  He devoted his life to expanding voter rights to make sure that every voice was heard, that every voice counts.”

Cuomo announced on Monday he’s planning to propose another 10 (M) million dollars for the census council here in New York, raising the total to 70 (M) million.  Last census only two (M) million was spent trying to ensure an accurate count.  Cuomo believes it will be challenging because of the national mood, among people who are immigrants or those with diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds.

“This is a time of fear for many communities.  You have Muslim bans; you have racial attacks; you have religious attacks; you have ICE (immigration) raids.  And people are sensitive about giving personal information to this federal government.”

Credit WAER File Photo

Cuomo has named a special census council led by Martin Luther King the Third, Lucy Liu and Lin Manuel Miranda.  State officials have spent 10 months holding hearings in order to have a plan to get a complete count.  Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado (roe-SAH-doe) is also using data to make communities under-counted in past censuses get attention.

“Unfortunately, people of color are all too often the individuals being undercounted in the census and that’s why the work of the census council is so important, because it specifically reaches out to these under-counted communities and will help inform them of the importance of the census, and encourage them to fill out the census questionnaire.”

Rosado adds that the state’s census website is in 103 language to make sure anyone can get information in the language in which they’re most comfortable.  The Governor will lay out more details on his Census plans later today in his annual budget proposal announcement. 

Additionally, dozens of other State agencies and authorities, CUNY, and SUNY will use their resources and ongoing contact with the public to develop and deploy up to $40 million to get residents to fill out the Census using existing resources.

These state entities will conduct outreach and provide Census-related information across their millions of contacts with the public.

  • Departments of Labor, Motor Vehicles, Agriculture and Markets;
  • The offices of Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and People with Developmental Disabilities;
  • Empire State Development;
  • The Division of Veterans Affairs

Examples of how State entities will leverage their resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Because the U.S. Census Bureau is only providing translation for a fraction of the languages spoken in New York State, State employees already trained to use the Language Line, will provides on the spot translation services for more than 200 languages. 
  • The Department of Labor, which reaches more than 9 million workers, 550,000 businesses and serves more than 500,000 New Yorkers directly, will open all 96 of its Career Centers as census assistance centers where members of the public can securely complete their 2020 Census questionnaire online. Career Centers will also display Census information on TV monitors in the waiting room, posters and handouts in multiple languages. The Department of Labor has also already promoted Census Bureau jobs at more than 100 jobs fairs and other recruiting events it hosts in every region of the state.
  • Every New Yorker lives within 30 miles of one of SUNY's 64 campuses and CUNY adds 25 campuses across New York City's five boroughs, all of which can serve as nodes that combine outreach efforts with resources. The two university systems, including community colleges, will also collaborate with the State to ensure their nearly 700,000 students are counted. For instance, Empire State College will open dozens of computer labs across the state for members of the public to use to complete the Census as well as use its campuses to allow the Census Bureau to train employees for the Census.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles has 27 state-run district offices and 94 county-run filed offices across the state through which it reaches about 12 million customers annually with 19.5 million connecting with the Department through its website. Census information will be displayed and distributed at every location and staff will be equipped to promote the Census in discussions with all visitors. It will also tap its database of approximately 4 million email addresses.  

Governor Cuomo in a release quoted Dr. King regarding the census, as well as the co-chairs of his census council.

“Being counted in the Census may well be second only to voting when it comes to citizen action in the Democrat process,”said Martin Luther King III. “Unfortunately, people of color are the ones most often undercounted, which leads to negative consequences for their communities. I am proud to work with Governor Cuomo to ensure every New Yorker, even those that are hardest to reach, is counted in the 2020 Census.” ? “I am proud to work with Governor Cuomo, Lin Manuel Miranda and Martin Luther King III to be part of the Census Council, which will raise awareness in all communities and encourage every New Yorker to participate in the 2020 Census,” said Lucy Liu. “The Census only happens every ten years, and it is essential we are doing all we can as a State to make sure every single New Yorker is counted and our State is fairly represented at the federal level. " “Representation matters and is vital for the fair allocation of federal funds to all of our communities,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for creating the Census Council and as co-chair, I encourage my neighbors to stand up and be counted and I hope that everyone across the nation will do the same. We’re at the start of a new decade and an accurate census makes a huge difference to all of us.”

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.