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The first ever Census Bureau color director was James F. Holmes: NPR

James F. Holmes, the first person to oversee the number of people in the United States, stood in his office in 1998 at the former headquarters of the Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland. Holmes was acting director for about nine months.

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James F. Holmes, the first person to oversee the number of people in the United States, stood in his office in 1998 at the former headquarters of the Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland. Holmes was acting director for about nine months.

The Washington Post via Juana Arias / Getty Images

More than 20 years before the Biden administration announced Its historic choice to lead the US Census Bureau, James F. Holmes quietly paved the way for the federal government’s largest statistical agency.

Biden’s candidate, Robert Santos, is a statistician, Latino-American, and will be the Senate-approved first permanent color director of the agency. However, African-American and acting director in 1998, Holmes was the first colored race to oversee the number of people who formed the basis of democracy in the United States.

Holmes’ nearly nine-month stint during an important period of preparation for the 2000 census A long history of whites overseeing the once-in-a-decade tally Used to determine political representatives and guide federal funding.

For over 230 years, more than 30 white leaders, including Thomas Jefferson, have led the census. The country’s first State Minister was indicted in 1790 for proving the number of US residents from the first population. Original instructions of the Constitution — Slave people are counted as “three-fifths” of free people, Some Native Americans weren’t counted at all..

The director, who became a permanent institution in 1902, was elected by the president and approved by the Senate. And for almost a quarter of a century (which didn’t require parliamentary approval) after Holmes temporarily ended his term as acting head of a government agency, none of the colored people took the top spot in the bureau.

“To say it’s been late for a long time is a conservative expression of the century,” Holmes says.

Surprise promotion to acting director

Holmes’ short role as acting director began with a surprise offer from Secretary of Commerce Bill Daily, who oversaw the bureau during the administration of former President Bill Clinton.

“I never understood why the Secretary of Commerce wanted to talk to me about the census issue,” said Holmes, who managed the agency’s regional office in Atlanta in January 1998. In the order of sticking “

At that time, the bureau had just lost its leader a few months before the 2000 census dress rehearsal began. Previous directors, Martha Riche and economists, resigned in the midst of a heightened political storm. Eventually blocked plans using statistical sampling To improve the accuracy of population counting for redistributing parliamentary seats and electoral college votes between states.

“Frankly, there were so many operational difficulties that I was very concerned about the effectiveness of the census at that time,” says Daily. “Mr. Holmes brought management and operational experience, which is the purpose of the census. Forget politics, forget about statistical sampling, etc.”

Holmes’ unusual promotion was deputed as a research statistician at the Detroit Regional Office after working for 30 years in a bureau far from headquarters just outside Washington, Georgia, and growing up in a small isolated town in 1968. I joined the store. He is a graduate of Albany State University, a historically black college in Georgia.

“All my formal education was done with black people. There was no one else. And when I entered the world of work, to be honest, how am I ready? There was some anxiety on my part about what to do, “says Holmes. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was as smart and ready as a white man, and when I realized that, I never looked back.”

Quietly make history at the Census Bureau

Holmes says he didn’t immediately realize that the appointment was historic when he was appointed as the bureau’s temporary leader in 1998. It was featured in the Associated Press report, New York Times And Washington postThere was no mention that Holmes became the first colored person to lead the US Census. Commerce Department Press Release Also, I omitted it.

For decades it has been driven by trivia. It is little known outside the circle of veteran bureau employees and long-time census watchers.This year “Prominent Graduates” section Of the bureau website Holmes Biography.. In a statement to the NPR, the agency stated that Holmes’ biography was recently added “when people were conducting a survey to emphasize for Black History Month.” However, this web page does not mention the historical nature of Holmes’ tenure.

Nevertheless, former Secretary of Commerce Daily, who later served as one of the Chiefs of Staff of former President Barack Obama, diversified the racial and ethnic composition of the bureau’s leaders when he decided to promote Holmes to acting director. He says he saw an opportunity to turn into.

“Most of the census workforce is African-American, so I thought the new day would be a strong message to the workforce,” says Daily.

By the end of 1998, Holmes was eventually replaced by the Senate-identified director, the white political scientist Kenneth Prewitt. Holmes says he wasn’t interested in leading the bureau in the long run and wanted to return to focusing on the responsibilities of career civil servants.

“I wasn’t quite happy with the political side, especially after 30 years on the other side,” says Holmes, who retired from the Department as Regional Director of Atlanta in 2005.

Hoping to “reflect their existence”

For decades after Holmes acted as director, the lack of diversity at the highest ranks of government agencies was a concern for some in the agency.

“This is the usual way, so there was no reason to doubt it on one side of the table,” says Jeri Green, a member who has worked for the station for over 20 years. Agency Affinity Group For African-American managers. “But from a colored standpoint, I know that every change of power is waiting for someone to reflect their human presence in the United States.”

Retired in 2017 as Senior Advisor to Citizenship, Green’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity among bureau leaders addresses the long-standing challenge of overestimating the country’s white population. It states that it may be useful. Underestimate people in color for census..

“It’s never going to be perfect, but if we have people at the table who can better explain what’s happening in these communities, we might be able to address these issues,” Green added. It was.

Mexican-American and President of the American Statistical Association, Robert Santos (center), will be the first permanent color director of the Census Bureau, if confirmed by the Senate.

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Jacklin Martin / AP

Mexican-American and President of the American Statistical Association, Robert Santos (center), will be the first permanent color director of the Census Bureau, if confirmed by the Senate.

Jacklin Martin / AP

Holmes says Santos — nominated to lead the station until 2026 He says he identifies him as Mestizo on the census form — It can bring not only a wide range of qualifications as a statistician, but also a life experience that “adds value and affluence to the organization”.

“Sometimes we only have numbers, sometimes we have numbers with the face and story behind them, and for me the latter is important,” Holmes says. “Otherwise, we are still making decisions in vacuum, and whenever you make a decision in vacuum, there are unintended consequences.”

“Born and raised in Balius” in San Antonio

At his recent confirmation hearing in the Senate, Santos shared how his upbringing helped shape his “dual passion for statistics and helping people.”

“I was born and raised in Barrios, San Antonio, my home country, and I was fortunate to be in a Mexican-American family whose parents secured a civil service job at Kelly Air Force Base,” said the American Statistical Association. Santos, the chairman, said. Congressman.

Julie Dowling, a professor of Latin American studies and Latin American studies at the University of Illinois, who recently chaired One of the committees of the Bureau of External Advisors, She says she is encouraged by the study of Santos, Write about how data on race and ethnicity, especially Latin Americans, is collected..

“One of the things I was really excited about seeing Latino representatives in this office is that we are a very large component of the population today,” says Mexican-American Douring. I will. “I think it’s really great to bring someone who has such experience, both personally and professionally, in his work. He has among the Latin people we have. You will be able to talk to some of that variety. “

Dowling added that Santos could also help rebuild public confidence after the controversy over former President Donald Trump’s administration. Failed to push citizenship question, Discourages participation in the census among many Latin Americans and Asian Americans..

“I think it really helps in turning the tide towards better relationships. People will understand the Census Bureau, not the one used during the Trump administration,” says Dowling. ..

If the director is approved, Santos will join the list of most men of directors confirmed in the Senate.

So far, Only two women Both are Caucasian and have you ever played that role?

NPR researcher Brin Winterbottom contributed to this report.

The first ever Census Bureau color director was James F. Holmes: NPR

Source link The first ever Census Bureau color director was James F. Holmes: NPR

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