C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Completes Final Leg of Census Relay as Supreme Court Orders Census Shutdown

Nellie Drinkard works census table at Mt Olive dinner drive thru. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — In track its called the anchor leg. The last run toward the finish line. C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries, the Knoxville 2020 Census Hub  appointed by State Rep. Rick Staples  joined the complete Census community count team led

Census Committee Count Team leaders: Vivian Shipe, I AM The Voice of the Voiceless, Keira Wyatt, C.O.N.N.E.C.T., and Cynthia Thomas Finch, New Directions Health Care Solutions. Photo Submitted

by “I AM The Voice of the Voiceless,” Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie, New Directions Health Care Solutions, and many other government, community and business organizations to ensure as many as possible would be COUNTED in Knoxville in 2020.

This collaboration has proven valuable as the back and forth between the Census Bureau and those desiring the Census end early had caused confusion, but the Supreme Court has ruled that Oct. 15 is now the final cut off date. 

Despite the back and forth on the higher levels, in Knoxville, the momentum toward a complete count never stopped. If anything, it  ramped up.The local ACO Census office had entered shutdown mode and was no longer going door to door having reached its goal of enumerating every address assigned to it .

That did not mean everyone had been counted as the weekly census response

Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie working the drive thru census event. Photo by Vivian Shipe

maps indicated.  The office may have shutdown but the community did  not.

Community groups joined hands and worked city wide making sure the citizens were counted.  From the highly successful Concert on the Lawn, to weekly grocery and dinner giveaways held by churches, the work has not stopped. Most recently there was also a successful  multi -county Individual Phone Bank Census Project. held by the Knoxville (TN) Chapter of the The Links, Incorporated.

Jan Brown, President of the Knoxville Chapter issued this statement;

TOGETHER WE COUNT: What We Can DO!

“Members of the Knoxville (TN) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated developed and implemented a Connect-Inquire-Report Strategy to contact friends, family, colleagues, and others to encourage them to submit their 2020 Census form, and to do their share to make sure everyone is counted. Chapter members made calls, sent text messages and emails to bring visibility and activation to this civic responsibility.”

As the race intensified in the last days,  the need for action then turned toward the children .

In 2010, over one million children under the age of five years old were not counted. To circumvent that from happening in Knoxville in this decennial,  the last community project was COUNT THE CHILDREN. 

Pastor Leah Burns, strong advocate for the census count in the African American
community. Photo by Vivian Shipe

The $675 Billion apportioned by the Census allots monies based on the number of children counted to programs like Head Start, children’s health insurance, and nutrition programs among many others.

Working with Emerald Youth Centers, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, and city wide day cares, and other organizations who serve the youth of Knoxville, the count

Larry Blair performed for the Concert on the Lawn. Photo by Vivian Shipe

committee partnered to set up outside these organizations and help parents do the questionnaire and others began to call their members. All to count the parents and the children of Knoxville.

As the count comes to an abrupt end. All of Knoxville can proudly say they did EVERYTHING they could to complete the mission!

Job well done!!