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Did U.S. Census Under-Count African Americans In Chicago?

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Some African-American leaders wonder if the U.S. Census undercounted blacks in Chicago. (CBS)

Some African-American leaders wonder if the U.S. Census undercounted blacks in Chicago. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Two hundred Thousand people in Chicago are “missing,” most of them in the African American Communities.

So, where did they go?

They disappeared during the latest census count. But some state leaders are questioning those numbers and want a recount, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

“A lot of our people have been pushed form the city,” Bryan Echols, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Group for Igniting Civilization, says.

Echols spent last spring working with the census bureau. He believes it’s possible some 200,000 people, most of them black, left Chicago.

He noted housing tear-downs in Woodlawn. Echols points to other developments across the city that have disappeared in the last 10 years.

“These people are in the south suburbs, they’re in the northwest suburbs, Elgin, Carpentersville. They took their Section 8 vouchers and they left,” he said.

Still, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is skeptical.

“We don’t see the corresponding increase in other parts of the state,” he explains.

Raoul questions the accuracy of the Census. He thinks blacks are still in the city but weren’t counted by census workers who may have been afraid to go into some communities or found reluctant residents.

Mattie Jones admits some of her friends didn’t open their doors because they didn’t want to answer some of the questions.  

State Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, thinks a recount is warranted.

He argues that everyone loses if blacks are undercounted. The state loses a congressional seat and the city and county lose federal funds that pay for services in all communities.

Dunkin says the Illinois Black Caucus meets on Wednesday and will discuss filing a complaint with the U.S. Census Bureau.

If there is a recount, state officials say they’ll need more census takers who are comfortable in the black community and are willing to spend more time convincing reluctant residents to fill out the forms.

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