By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — The sun shone down from a beautiful blue cloudless sky. The purple tents were set up outside in recognition of the need to social distance during the ceremony honoring community leaders and volunteers who had worked tirelessly over the
last two years during the 2020 Census.
A proclamation from County Mayor Glen Jacobs and Certificates of Recognition from The Voice of the Voiceless made it a joyful and thankful occasion befitting the beginning of the holiday season.
November 19th in Knoxville will now forever be known as Positive Census Impact Day. The leaders and volunteers recognized had worked hard in their communities to bring up thier response rates.
Over one million dollars. That’s how much the 8 percent increase in the response rate in the zip
code area of 37915 was worth.
The concentrated effort of the community and the congregation of Lenen Seney United Methodist Church under the direction of Reverend Leah Burns to raise the numbers was recognized by the mayor as was the effort to count the people by CONNECT when the call came to end the census early.
According to the Proclamation; when the order came to end the census on October 15th at the odd hour of 11pm, Keira Wyatt, whose organization C.O.N.N.E C.T. Ministries serves the people in the other inner city zip code, 37914, moved with a quickness.
Already appointed as the CENSUS HUB back in the summer by state representative Rick Staples, Wyatt extended the close of business hours on October 15th from 2 pm untill 11 pm and opened all the phone lines and computers to let people call in or walk-in to complete their census questionnaires by the court appointed deadline of 11pm.
Officer James Horton and his wife volunteeed to work what turned into a 15 hour day to provide security and assistance.
Volunteers were recognized for their labor in passing out flyers, facilitating, setting up tents and tables and directing traffic . Father and son team , James and Kaden Shipe received a certificate for two years of service at over 50 census job fairs and events across the city to help recruit and raise the inner city response rates.
The theme of the 2020 census was BE COUNTED. These and other organizations did everything possible to ensure that every one was. After undercounting African Americans in 2010 by 800,000 and not counting over 2 million children under age 5,
the effort of these and other community leaders can not be understated.
The numbers from the census count will be used to redraw district voting lines and determine representation over the coming years. Monies will be available for better schools and hospitals. These communities will now be able to receive a larger portion of the 675 BILLION apportionment due to the efforts of the people.
As the country prepares to transition, it seemed fitting in this season of Thanksgiving to stop and acknowledge the impact made from the efforts that will produce positive results for the next decade.