Sarah J. Gonzalez Memorial Park was filled with music, popcorn, and face painting stands on Sunday. The park was also teeming with volunteers wearing ‘ATL Counts Census 2020’ shirts.
The Census Block Party, on Atlanta’s Westside, is part of a year-long effort by the city to raise awareness about the 2020 Census.
The party came on the same day planned immigration raids were expected across the country.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms thought about canceling the event.
“But as we talked internally we thought and knew that it was more important today to show that we aren’t afraid. And that we will not ask people to hide in the shadows,” she said.
The Census, required by the Constitution, is used to determine approximately $880 billion a year in federal funding. The once-a-decade count also determines political representation.
The event also comes in the wake of legal battles around the population count. The Trump administration relented on asking a citizenship question on the census form.
Harvey Soto is with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. Though there won’t be a citizenship question, he says damage may have already been done by creating fear among immigrants around the census.
But, he says, events like these are important.
“I feel like any effort that is made can make headway towards that fear that is in the community. If they see that elected officials that represent them are saying ‘I’m standing with you … it provides a little bit of relief,” Soto said.
At the block party, the Mayor was also joined by Metro Atlanta rapper Kap G. She was also joined by the actor known as Scrapp Deleon on the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. He said he didn’t realize how important the Census was until he learned about its connection to funding.
“I want a better neighborhood for my kids,” he says, “I’m raising two boys.”
He says he’s ready to fill out forms for the 2020 Census.
“I’m definitely doing it,” he says. “I’m gonna have my momma do it, my brothers, my sons and everybody else.”