Hundreds Race for the Black and Missing
Barrington M. Salmon | 5/29/2013, 9 p.m.
The last time Thelma Butler talked to her daughter in February 2009, they discussed plans for a Valentine's Day get-together.
That conversation was the last the two had because Pamela Butler disappeared without a trace and hasn't been seen or heard from since.
"She and her boyfriend were supposed to be taking me out to dinner," Thelma Butler recalled. "I called her on Feb. 12. Saturday was Valentine's Day and we were supposed to meet at 3 p.m."
"She didn't show up and I called and called. I called the kids and told them 'This is strange.' But I went to a church service. Later I called and her phone was busy and after that it rang and rang."
Butler, 81 and a resident of Southwest, said she and some family members went to her daughter's and found the bed completely stripped and Pamela's pocketbook open with her wallet missing.
When her 47-year-old daughter disappeared, Butler said, it was as if her life had come to a standstill.
"It's tears, tears, tears," she said somberly. "I couldn't stop crying and asked God to say something."
Every day since, Butler said she and her family wonder about Pamela, miss her and grieve for her. Butler said she believes her daughter's boyfriend is responsible for her disappearance, and Butler's son Derrick admitted reluctantly that he thinks his sister is dead.
In 2012, more than 265,000 minorities were reported missing in the U.S., the reason the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., hosted its first annual "Hope Without Boundaries" 5K Run/Walk at National Harbor in Ft. Washington, Md.
Co-Founder Natalie Wilson said the May 25 event was held on National Missing Children's Day to raise awareness about non-white individuals who have disappeared.
"This is an issue we need to keep on the forefront," Wilson said. "If someone who disappeared isn't blonde or blue-eyed, their case doesn't get the media coverage it deserves. And often, law enforcement classifies black children who're missing as runaways so there's no Amber Alert."
"Also, the makeup of the media affects coverage. There needs to be more people of color in the newsroom. At the Black and Missing Foundation, we believe that every missing person, regardless of age, race, mental ability or circumstance, deserves awareness."
Despite 40-degree temperatures and blustery, slicing winds at the 8 a.m. start, more than 500 runners and walkers braved the elements to compete.
A little more than 21 minutes later, Emma Johnston crossed the finish line first with a time of 21 minutes 17 seconds, while Marvin Jones finished second with a time of 22 minutes and 20 seconds.
At the finish line, a throng of loud and enthusiastic supporters cheered on finishers. Runners hugged each other, families and friends, celebrated their feat and relished the achievement.
Journalist Jacque Reid, one of several celebrities who graced the event, announced the winners during the awards ceremony. Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock, also attended the event.
"Who ran, who walked and who finished by any means necessary?" Reid asked to a show of hands. "This is so dope because a woman won. Who rules the world?"