Taraji P. Henson has been tapped to host BET’s 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards honoring “Insecure” creator, writer and star Issa Rae, “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi and others. The ceremony will take place on Aug. 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Rae is set to receive the Star Power Award while actress/activist Shahidi will take home the Young Gifted and Black honor.
Other honorees include singer Roberta Flack (Living Legend Award); financier Suzanne Shank (Shot Caller Award); and community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of The Black & Missing Foundation (Community Change Agent Award).
The 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards will air on BET on Aug. 20.
They spend almost 80 hours per week outside of their regular jobs to help bring attention to the plight of missing persons of color who often get less media attention than their White counterparts. They’ve partnered with NewsOne to help produce the weekly “Black and Missing” column as well as TV One’s“Find Our Missing,” which is hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson.
Now, Natalie and Derrica Wilson (pictured from left), co-founders of theBlack and Missing Foundation, need your help. In an effort to continue raising money to continue their important work, the Black and Missing Foundation is hosting its first 5k run/walk fund-raiser on May 25th in Ft. Washington, Md.
The Hope Without Boundaries 5k, presented by the National Child Identification Program, will allow Natalie and Derrica to continue to help African Americans find their missing loved ones safe and sound. And even in cases where the news is not good, they still are able to provide families with some sense of closure so they aren’t left forever wondering what happened to their loved one.
The work they do is invaluable to those whose loved one has just gone missing, especially since the statistics are discouraging.
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. 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.
After seeing the lack of attention that some missing African Americans receive in the media, Natalie and Derrica have set out to make change. Using Derrica’s law enforcement background and Natalie’s public relations and marketing background, the two women, along with countless volunteers, have been able to put African-American missing cases front and center.
“Through our personal funding and donations we maintain an online clearinghouse. In addition, we provide support to the families of the missing with flyer distribution, financial support, victim recovery, and burial service assistance,” said Natalie Wilson.
They’ve also been able to bring attention to the cases of missing African Americans by serving as spokespeople on news programs such as CNN.
But they need our support to keep on going.
“Black and Missing Foundation Inc. is hosting its first annual ‘Hope Without Boundaries’ 5K Run to bring awareness to missing persons of color and honor National Missing Children’s Day. We believe that awareness is vital in finding our missing or providing much needed closure for their families.,” said Derrica Wilson.
When my daughter, Phoenix Coldon, did not come home and had not called on Monday, December 19, 2011, after leaving our driveway on the previous afternoon (Sunday, December 18, 2011), I called several local television stations to get her face and missing situation before the local population. I had absolutely no success. I then designed my own flyer with pictures of Phoenix as well as her physical description and description of her vehicle that she was driving. I put that flyer on my personal Facebook page and sent it to everyone on my e-mail list.
Someone down the line gave Phoenix’s information to the Black and Missing Foundation that I had never heard about. Derrica Wilson called me, offered her assistance, and changed the entire process. She and Natalie designed a more professional flyer, listed Phoenix on their website, contacted not only local television stations but national stations and newspapers, and talked with me for hours while I talked about my beautiful Phoenix. They even just held the phone while I cried, sobbed, blew my nose, and cried some more.
I love both of them and am grateful beyond words for their help. I hope to meet them one day and give them a warm hug and kiss on the cheek. We have not found Phoenix yet, but I am more confident that we will find her soon as a result of the exposure that was afforded to Phoenix by the Black and Missing Foundation.