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Hundreds Race for the Black and Missing

WI Web Staff | 5/29/2013, 9 p.m.
More than 500 people participated in the Black & Missing Foundation's 5K Race on May 25. Last year, more than 265,000 minorities disappeared in the United States. The Umbrella Syndicate

"Women!!" the females in the crowd shouted.

Hundreds milled around, chatting, laughing, and enjoying the sunshine. But even though a DJ spun upbeat 80s old school jams which brought smiles to people's faces and compelled them to move their feet and bodies, the serious nature of the event was never far from anyone's mind.

Brandy Martin, whose group raised the most money at the event, captured that feeling.

"I'm here with my sister, grandmother and others to honor my mother Felecia Martin who's been missing for 21 years. It's tough not knowing where mom is, what happened to her, where her remains are," said Martin as her voice broke. "Our voices need to be heard just like the Natalee Holloways. We count too."

Holloway disappeared in 2005 while on a high school graduation trip in Aruba. The case got widespread national coverage but she was never found. Holloway was declared dead in absentia in January 2012.

Leigh Carter and Bernie Tiken, both mothers, said they couldn't begin to imagine losing a child in this way.

"We have kids and we care about this type of stuff. It's a different time now. Parents worry more," said Tiken, who lives in Falls Church, Va.

Carter, Tiken's friend for 11 years, agreed.

"Mine is nine," the Waldorf, Md., resident said of her son. "I want to give him space, give him a longer leash but when do you do that? When he goes out to play basketball, I'm always listening and if the bouncing stops, I'm running out to see where he is."

"It's very sad to hear the stories. We were talking about how do you live from day-to-day? But then there's hope as in the case of the three girls from Cleveland."

Carter was referring to the case of three young women who were abducted and believed dead, but who were discovered alive after being held captive by a bus driver for a decade.

Wilson said families left behind cling to hope: "Hope that their loved one will return home. Hope that law enforcement will be proactive. Hope that the media will get involved. Hope that members of the community will come forward with vital information to bring their loved one home."

Organizers said the race raised $15,584.

"Go on you all. What you've done today is extraordinary," said award-winning film, stage and television actress S. Epatha Merkerson, who hosts a reality reenactment show on TV One which profiles black and brown people who are missing.

The money will be donated to affected families, buy flyers and pay for victim recovery and burial service assistance.

Asha Tarry, founder and executive director of Collective Advocates for Social Change & Development, Inc., headquartered in New York, painted a broader picture of the issue.

"This is about domestic human trafficking. I know first-hand that it happens," she said. "Our kids of color are 50 percent of the people trafficked around the country. Forty percent are African American. We want to protect our kids and raise them with love."