NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - On a busy Jefferson Street, Rashad Donaldson cuts hair at Urban Class Barbershop. Nashville and this historic street means everything to him. It's why he'll do anything to uplift his neighborhood.

"Live right here in Nashville, TN. Born and raised," Donaldson said.

"Every chance that I can do that, in our society, if our society gives us an opportunity to speak up and be heard, I'm gonna do it."

Donaldson filled out his census form earlier this year. At a time of civil unrest in our nation, he knows the Black community is hurting. He also knows it needs to be heard in every form and fashion.

"Right now we're in America and we're looking at a failed social experience, and there's [sic] a lot of people who have lost faith in the government system," Donaldson said. "However it operates, they lost faith in it, and that's why they don't participate. You can see it right now. A lot of people said my vote don't count, it don't matter; they lost faith. And losing faith will not get it done."

Kenya McGruder, Civic Engagement Director for the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, is encouraging everyone, but especially the black community in Nashville, to fill out the census form now.

"The African-American community is behind where they were 10 years ago at this time," McGruder said. "We know that also Black immigrants are not completing the census at all, as well as children. They were under-counted 10 years ago and the fight is to get them counted now."

Census officials said filling out the form can create change in your neighborhood, from how many political representatives you can have to education, transportation and health care.

U.S. Census Bureau media specialist June Iljana told News4 these funds support specific benefit programs such as school lunch programs, vocational training, supplemental nutrition programs and many others.

"The 675 billion worth of our federal tax money is returned to our states and communities every year. Based on, or at least informed, by the census data that's collected every 10 years," Iljana said. "By being counted in this 2020 census, you can bring more resources back to your community to support services everyone uses."

"Believe in it and keep pressing it until it works," Donaldson said. "If they said that this government works for the people, then make sure it works for the people. Speak up and say 'Hey, work for me.' And I'm not going to let you not work for me. I'll press you every chance I get."

The U.S. Census Bureau said there is still time to respond to the census. If you haven't responded, you're encouraged to do it now. Responses will be accepted through October. You can respond online, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by completing and returning the paper questionnaire you received in the mail.

Census data is used to determine how many seats Tennessee will have in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as to draw voting district boundaries at the state and local level.

There are still employment opportunities available with the U.S. Census Bureau. Officials said they are hiring local people to work in their own communities to help ensure that everyone is counted.

By responding to the census while at home, it will help reduce the number of census takers needed to send door-to-door to count those households that don't respond to the 2020 Census.


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