October 22, 2016
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Black Coalition Clarifies The Use Of The Word "Negro" On The 2010 Census Form


Joint Statement on the Use of the Word “Negro” on the 2010 Census Form

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and the NAACP consider the 2010 census to be a critical civil rights issue and are working across the nation to achieve a fair and accurate population count. Our primary focus is on reducing the disproportionate undercount of people of color, language minorities, the poor, and young children that has plagued the census for many decades.

As more people become aware of the census and focus on the ten-question census form, the inclusion of the word “Negro” in the same category as “Black” and “African American” has generated some confusion and criticism of the Census Bureau by those who consider the term to be woefully outdated or demeaning.

For those who have not seen the census form, it’s important to note that all three terms-- “Black, African Am., or Negro” -- are listed together on the same line to describe this race category, so that no one is identified by a single term. The Census Bureau says the inclusion of the term “Negro” is justified both by its research and the fact that more than 56,000 respondents to the 2000 census checked off “Some Other Race” and wrote in “Negro” even though the check-off category already included the term.

The census collects data on race and Hispanic origin to ensure compliance with constitutional standards and legal requirements for fair representation in legislative bodies at the national, state, and local levels, and to enforce equal opportunity laws in employment, housing, education, lending, and other institutions. Because concepts of race and ethnicity in America are continually evolving, we commend the Census Bureau for using the 2010 census as a test-bed for alternative wording on the questions that eventually will be part of both the 2020 census and the ongoing American Community Survey. Among other prospective changes, the Census Bureau is testing revised questions that exclude the word “Negro.”

In the meantime, we can’t let this issue undermine our ability to achieve an accurate count of every person in the United States, especially for those communities that historically have been undercounted in the past. The stakes are too high. No less than fair political representation and access to a fair share of the nation’s public and private resources are riding on the 2010 count. We can’t afford to sit this one out.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and it 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil and human rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and advocating for equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to increase Black civic engagement and voter participation. The organization serves as a convener and facilitator at the local, state and national levels of efforts to address the disenfranchisement of African Americans and other marginalized communities. In an effort to ensure an accurate 2010 Census count of populations from all parts of the Black Diaspora, The National Coalition convenes the Unity Diaspora Coalition, an initiative comprised of African, African American, Caribbean and other Black immigrant groups.

All media inquiries, please contact Edrea Davis by email, or (818)613-9521.

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