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Next year will mark the fifth anniversary of the Black and Missing Foundation, the organization founded by sisters-in-law Natalie and Derrica Wilson to bring more attention to the plight of African Americans who go missing.

RELATED: Britney Exline, Nation’s Youngest African-American Engineer

The pair noticed that missing African Americans received less media attention than their White counterparts and they set out to do something about it. That has meant five years of late night calls and desperate Facebook messages, coaching distraught parents on how to deal with law enforcement who may not take their concerns as seriously and taking their message national with the help of partners like NewsOne and T.D. Jakes.

That’s why Natalie and Derrica have been named the 2012 Shine Awards Freedom Fighter winner.

“We believe that every missing person, regardless of age, race, mental ability or circumstance, deserves awareness,” said Derrica Wilson who has a background in law enforcement.

According to the FBI, Blacks make up 34 percent of the  678,000 people reported missing last year despite making up just 13 percent of the country’s population. Forty percent of children reported missing are African American.

“We are dedicated to being the voice for the missing by providing a platform of hope for the overwhelming number of missing persons of color,” said Natalie.

And the women have done just that.

The Black and Missing Foundation has assisted in the recovery of more than 100 missing persons since their founding. One way they’ve done that is to seek a national platform for the issue of missing African Americans. The women have appeared on HLN’s Dr. Drew, The Ricky Lake Show, and have partnered with TVOne for the television show Find Our Missing, which is hosted by S. Empatha Merkson. After Derrica Wilson appeared on “The View” earlier this year, Mishelle Greene, a young woman who had been missing for five months, was recovered alive and well.

Now, we are slowly seeing more faces of color creep in to national news about missing persons cases. When People Magazine or Nancy Grace profiles a missing person of color, it’s because Derrica and Natalie helped bring attention to the unfair disparity in media coverage that existed.

“We are working diligently to ensure that law enforcement training is enhanced, that they are prepared and respond more swiftly and effectively than ever before; that better laws are created to help protect our communities; and that our communities become more aware and alert,” said Derrica Wilson.

RELATED: The 2012 Shine Awards Are Here!

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