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Marian Anderson Poster Aimed at Black Turnout in Census Drive

February 27, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ The U.S. Census Bureau hopes the memory of contralto Marian Anderson’s 1939 Washington concert, a civil rights landmark, inspires record numbers of blacks to turn out in this year’s census.

″If they don’t know now, they’ll learn a little bit later that it really pays to stand up and be counted,″ Miss Anderson said Monday at a ceremony at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

She was presented with a birthday cake as the Census Bureau’s poster and television campaign was unveiled. Miss Anderson turns 88 today.

″You are the first living American ever in our 200 years to become a symbol of the United States census,″ Census Director Barbara Everitt Bryant told Miss Anderson, who retired 25 years ago.

The poster shows Miss Anderson performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial urging blacks to ″Lift Up Your Voice. Stand up for who you are. Answer the census on April 1, 1990.″

Considered a historic performance, Miss Anderson sang before a crowd that included Eleanor Roosevelt at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939, after she was barred from Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The organization later said the hall was already reserved. The incident became a landmark in the fight against segregation.

The census, taken every decade since 1790, determines distribution of seats in the House of Representatives, how seats are divided in state legislatures and how billions of dollars in federal funds are spent.

Bryant said in 1790 the U.S. Census counted 750,000 blacks, or 19 percent of the 3.9 million populace. Each black then was counted as only three-fifths of a person, she said.

Roland H. Moore, associate director of the U.S. Census, said the 1980 census skipped 6 percent of the black population.

This year, the bureau expects to count 31 million blacks from about 250 million Americans.

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