Why they are local heroes: Tired of not hearing about missing persons cases involving people of color, Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson decided to do something about it. Using Derrica’s background in law enforcement and Natalie’s experience in public relations, they created the Black and Missing Foundation to bring attention to missing persons cases involving African Americans.
While Blacks only make up 13 percent of the country’s population, they make up more than 33 percent of those reported missing in the FBI’s database. Given the limited coverage that Black missing persons cases receive, though, one wouldn’t think that was the case. According to the National Crime Information Center, there were almost 30,000 active missing persons cases in the country. Blacks make up almost 12,000 of those cases or about 40 percent. Of the 173 Amber alerts in 2010, 30 percent were for African-American children.
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The disparity in media coverage between Tamika Houston, a young Black woman from Spartanburg, S.C., and Natalie Holloway, a young White woman who went missing in Aruba, is what really motivated the sisters-in-law duo to found their foundation.
Derrica watched Houston’s family fight for media attention while Holloway, though missing in another country, dominated the national airwaves for hours at a time.
“The Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. was born out of necessity,” Derrica Wilson told NewsOne. “The public is mislead in believing that the victims of kidnappings and abductions are blond, blue-eyed and female. In actuality, 40 percent of all persons missing in the United States are of color.”
In a few short years, the pair has been able to create a resource that is helping to make a difference.
“Black and Missing Foundation provides much needed platforms to bring awareness to missing persons of color,” says Natalie,” which is essential in ensuring the safe return of the missing individual or closure for the families. We are committed to providing an equal opportunity for all missing persons.”
In addition to working with the show “Find Our Missing” with TV One and NewsOne, the Black and Missing Foundation has also partnered with radio personality Michael Baisden to feature missing persons of color on his nationally syndicated show, and newswoman Jacque Reid is now the national spokesperson for the foundation.
So far, the Black and Missing Foundation has helped to facilitate 72 reunifications or closures for families. One of the most recent was that of Stacey Nicole English, a bank teller whose body was found in January in southeast Atlanta. Black and Missing worked with English’s family throughout the ordeal.
But that’s not nearly enough for Derrica or Natalie.
“That is a good number,” says Natalie, “because we started out wanting to help just one family. But there are so many more families that need help. That is what we are focused on doing.”