For more than 100 years, African American leaders in the Department of Commerce have been making significant, innovative contributions to our data collection to help us better understand our country and our world. Through locations across the country, the Department of Commerce provides vital services to businesses, American communities, and tribal, state, and local governments by deploying connectivity, data, and information—all of which to make informed decisions—in all areas. Trust our data. Economy
In honor of Black History Month, the US Census Bureau has decided to honor three black Americans.
Gertrude E. Rush: Census Enumerator and Legal Pioneer
Census work was one of the open government jobs for minorities. The Census Bureau has been hiring African Americans as enumerators and data processors since the 1870 census, the first census conducted since the abolition of slavery.
In 1910, the Census Bureau issued guidelines requiring that communities with two-fifths of African American populations must have African American enumerators. That same year, Gertrude E. Rush, born Gertrude Elzora Durden, became one of only two African Americans to pass the Census Bureau enumeration test in Des Moines, Iowa, and joined 1,605 African American enumerators working nationwide. . The Iowa Bystander praised the recruitment of “colorful” census takers, hailing them as “honored citizens” and congratulating them.
In addition to his role as a census counter, perhaps the most important of Rush’s many achievements was in the area of law. In 1918, she became the first African American to be admitted to the Iowa State Bar. She remained the only African American woman to practice law in Iowa until the 1950s. In 1921, she became president of the Iowa Colored Bar Association, the first woman to head a co-state bar association. Four years later, after being denied admission to the American Bar Association, he and four other African American lawyers (who were men) founded the Negro Bar Association (now called the National Bar Association). It currently has about 65,000 members, mainly African Americans.
Rush, a writer and activist in the civil rights and women’s movements, died in Des Moines on September 5, 1962, at the age of 82.
In 2010, 100 years after Rush became one of the nation’s first African American enumerators, the National Bar Association, which he helped found, was one of the groups that ensured accurate counts of historically underrepresented groups. Worked with the Census Bureau to help
Larry Irving: NTIA Leader and Broadband Data Groundbreaker
More than 25 years ago, the Internet was still evolving from a network used primarily in education and government to the dynamic engine for innovation and economic growth we know today.
At its center was Larry Irving, the first African American assistant secretary to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Irving was instrumental in developing policies and programs to ensure access to telecommunications and information technology.
As part of his work developing public policy in this new era, Irving led an effort to improve our understanding of who was left behind in the Internet age. In 1994, Irving commissioned the Census Bureau to collect data on Americans’ computer use and compare it with key demographic information such as race, age, and income. This survey was one of the first to reveal the existence of the phrase “digital divide” popularized by Irving.
NTIA’s Internet Usage Survey continues today. Last November, the 16th edition of the survey went into the field. With its large sample size and more than 50 questions about Internet use, it is the most comprehensive national survey on how Americans connect to the Internet and what they do when they are online. The NTIA plans to release the results of the survey and our analysis of the data in the coming months.
Unfortunately, the digital device Irving identified (in the 1990s) is still with Americans today. The 2019 NTIA Internet Usage Survey revealed that 65 million Americans have no Internet access at all, and significant racial, educational, income and other inequalities remain in adoption.. Help is on the way, however. The bipartisan infrastructure law allocates $65 billion to the NTIA, including approximately $48 billion, to expand broadband to communities across the United States.Creating more low-cost broadband service options, and addressing the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.
In 2019, Irving was elected to the Internet Hall of Fame, which honored his groundbreaking work in identifying the digital divide and advocating for equal access to the Internet. Today he is the chairman of the Irving Group, a consulting firm, and chairman of the board of the Public Broadcasting Service. The NTIA recognizes Irving’s great achievements and lasting legacy as a champion for universal Internet access.
Jeffrey Barnett: BEA economist highlights the impact of the pandemic on the US economy
For Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) economist Jeffrey Barnett, Black History Month is “a time to reflect on and recognize the significant contributions African Americans have made to the United States. It is also a time to remember the extraordinary sacrifices that have made.” What black men and women have done to allow us to have the freedoms we are today.”
In December, Barnett was awarded the BEA’s George Jaszy Employee Excellence Award for “consistently demonstrating exceptional leadership skills, vision and tenacity.” Barnett, head of the National Economic Accounts Business and Consumer Services Branch, was recognized for his innovative research that led to the development of alternative, high-frequency indicators to measure the economic activity of the services sector. His research contributed directly to a better understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the US economy, according to the text accompanying his award.
In addition to the Jazzy Award, Barnett was part of a group that won a gold medal from the Department of Commerce for customer service last year. Barnett and his colleagues were honored for rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a new way to analyze and measure record-setting disruptions in the US economy.
Barnett holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Howard University and a master’s degree in management from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Barnett has served on the BEA’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and is currently a member of the Council’s External Community Initiatives subgroup. In 2020, he participated as a panelist on the council’s “Conversations on Race”.
To learn more about the valuable data products provided by these three bureaus, please visit their respective websites: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), U.S. Census Bureau and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).