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Social justice art collective to help raise awareness for the 2020 census

The mayor made the announcement at the DuSable Museum, 740 E 56th Pl., along with the founders of Paint the City — an art initiative born in the wake of the riots that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a partnership with Paint the City to raise awareness for the 2020 census.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a partnership with Paint the City to raise awareness for the 2020 census. Boards that had covered windows after looting in Chicago — and then were painted by the arts group — will be used to promote participation in the census.
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday morning the city will partner with a local public art initiative to raise awareness and encourage residents to fill out the 2020 census before it’s too late.

The mayor made the announcement at the DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Pl., along with the founders of Paint the City — an art initiative born in the wake of the riots that followed the police killing of George Floyd. The group painted messages of racial equity on the plywood sheets that shielded businesses.

Calling them “boards of change,” Lightfoot said they will be brought to neighborhoods across the city to promote the census.

Lightfoot drew connections between the census and social justice activism.

“When we think about the most powerful lovers of our democracy we think of the vote, free speech, organizing and equal protection under law,” Lightfoot said.

“And this year, in this important moment, we also have a unique opportunity to have our voices heard collectively through the census,” she added. “If you don’t fill it out, you get left out.”

Lightfoot stressed that a full count of the city’s population is needed for Chicago to receive its “rightful share” of federal funding for the next 10 years.

“These boards represent voices in communities that for too long have been undercounted or not counted at all,” Lightfoot said.

As of Monday, Chicago’s response rate to the census was 55% — well below the mayor’s 75% goal. Lightfoot has repeatedly encouraged census participation, most recently deploying Adam Hollingsworth, known as the Dread Head Cowboy, to carry a census banner on horseback through hard-to-count communities.

The last day to fill out the census has been pushed back to Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents can fill out the census by mail, online at my2020census.gov, or by calling 844-330-2020.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.