April 22, 2015
Natalie Wilson and Derrica Wilson, founders of the Black and Missing Foundation Inc. (www.BAMFI.org), are sisters-in-law. The pair co-founded the organization to help minority families who are searching for loved ones, a segment of the community that is often omitted from milk cartons, billboards and news headlines.
Founded by a veteran police officer and public relations professional, Black and Missing Foundation Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that is dedicated to bringing awareness to missing persons of color. The mission is simple, to:
- Bring awareness to missing persons of color – men, women and children;
- Provide vital resources and tools to missing person’s families and friends; and
- Educate the minority community on personal safety.
Here, Natalie shares why this organization is so important.
What is the mission of Black and Missing Foundation Inc.?
When we hear the term “missing persons,”we immediately conjure up images of Caylee Anthony, Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Dail Dinwiddie, and Natalee Holloway. But what about persons of color, with similar fates, such as Relisha Rudd, Constance Anderson, Stepha Henry, and Shelton Sanders who did not get the same coverage?
Due to the disparity in awareness and coverage, the public is misled in believing that the typical victims of abductions and kidnappings are White and female. However, according to a recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, close to 40 percent of all missing persons in America are persons of color — an overwhelming number are Black men.
Why did you establish this organization?
The disappearance of Tamika Huston inspired the founders to form Black and Missing Foundation Inc. Tamika disappeared around May 27, 2004 from Spartanburg, SC – Derrica’s hometown. Tamika’s disappearance spawned controversy about the media coverage of missing people and how cases get national attention. Right after Tamika went missing, Natalee Holloway disappeared and her disappearance received local and national news coverage.
To date, how many people have been found alive?
Since our inception, our efforts have led to the recovery of 128 individuals. Sadly, not all have been found alive.
What has been the most shocking component in this journey?
Our mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents are disappearing at an alarming rate and very few seem to care or take notice.
Tell us about the first time you located someone who was abducted?
I can’t really describe the feeling. Of course there was a sense of euphoria. We put our heart, blood, sweat, and tears into finding our missing. We become a part of their family as well. We are with them during the highs and lows — holding on to hope.
I will say that it encourages us to find the next person so that their family can have the euphoria or sense of closure.
With all of the challenges that you face, what keeps you motivated?
Our challenges are miniscule in comparison to what these families go through. We don’t want to focus on that. We know that we are making strides in holding law enforcement, the media and our communities accountable in finding our missing.
What motivates us are families who are searching for answers as to what happened to their loved on. So many of them spend all they have to find them.
Through our efforts and awareness campaign, if we can save someone life, that is motivation.
How can people help?
It takes all of us – the media, law enforcement and the community to help find us. As a community we need unity (come forward with information; instead of the “no snitching”); develop Neighborhood Watch Programs by partnering with the police; education (understanding the process in the event that something like this happens); communication with your children/grandchildren/etc; having up-to-date photos.
Raising awareness is key in finding our missing or providing much needed closure for their families. We strongly believe that someone knows something. We ask the community to assist us in raising awareness by subscribing to BAM FI’s social media initiatives: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bamfiorg and Twitter: @BAM_FI. IG: blackandmissingfdn
Take a look at the profiles in your area (www.bamfi.org). Do you recognize anyone or have any information about the case?
Who are your corporate partners?
We do not have corporate partners. However, we do have media partners like NewsOne, the Huffington Post, Codeblack, and Ebony.com who assist in bringing awareness to our missing.
Tell us about the upcoming event.
We will have a MUST HAVE discussion, “Black and Missing In America” takes place on May 7 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at THEARC located at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE in Washington, District of Columbia 20020. It’s a free event.
At the discussion, we will unveil a new short film created to highlight the important work done at BAMFI on behalf of families in need. “Black and Missing In America” was executive produced by Oscar® and Emmy® award-winning producer Arnold Shapiro and directed and written by Marlene McCurtis.
RSVP by April 30th to BAMFI.
On, May 30, we will hold our third annual “Hope Without Boundaries” 5K run/walk to bring awareness to our missing. Registration: WWW.HWB5K.org
Photo credit: Black and Missing Foundation