On Thursday, May 3, Dr. Bernie Miller, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Church in Chattanooga, was unanimously elected chairman of the U.S. Census Bureau’s African American Advisory Committee.
“To have been unanimously selected to chair our committee by my colleagues is a humbling experience. This position will give me an opportunity to work closely with our regional field offices to secure jobs for citizens in our area. The African American committee advises the U.S. Census Bureau on ways to reduce the differential undercount of hard-to-enumerate populations within the African American community," Dr. Miller said. “There are 36.4 million people who reported themselves as Black or African American, and the 1.8 million who reported themselves as Black in combination with one or more other races who are depending on our nine member committee to be their voice at the Census Bureau.”
The committee made recommendations for recruitment and hiring during its May 2007 meeting. “Our committee gave the bureau 120 days to find a Black executive within the Census Bureau to be promoted to the executive level of the 2010 Census decennial and the ACS (American Community Survey). There are currently no blacks at that level. We felt that was unacceptable. There was a significant and unexplainable undercount of African Americans in the 2000 Census. That undercount affected the amount of federal dollars each state, county and city receives from the federal government. If a black is hired on the executive level where decisions are made, they could inform the bureau how reach the hard to count African Americans in public housing, rural blacks, urban inner city, and Katrina-impacted Gulf Coast African American populations” said Dr. Miller.
Of all the people who reported as Black in Census 2000, 54% lived in the South, 19% lived in the Midwest, 18% lived in the Northeast and 10% lived in the West. Dr. Miller said, “Our committee’s recommendations can be greatly beneficial to every state in which we live and to the Census Bureau.” There are ten states where 60 percent of African Americans reside: New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan and Louisiana. Five of these had more than 2 million blacks each: New York, California, Texas, Florida and Georgia.