Hundreds Support Area's Black and Missing
Barrington M. Salmon | 5/28/2014, 3 p.m.
Since Oct. 11, 2010, Valencia Harris has lived a nightmare from which she’s yet to emerge.
That night, someone entered her daughter Unique’s apartment and spirited away the 24-year-old mother of two. She has yet to be found.
“I never thought in a million years that this would happen to me,” said Harris, owner of a geriatric nursing facility. “She had a soft, passive side and I was always worried about her. Someone came in the middle of the night on Oct. 10 and took her. Sometimes I have to pull off to the side of the road and cry. I have 100 different emotions a day. I’m trying to keep myself balanced.”
“Sometimes you don’t want to get up in the morning. You just want to stay wrapped up in a ball. I couldn’t imagine before what this felt like. I could sympathize before, now I empathize. All my faith is in the Heavenly Father. He gave her to me and he will bring her back to me.”
Harris, 46, stayed until the very end of the 2nd annual “Hope Without Boundaries” 5K Run/Walk at National Harbor in Ft. Washington, Maryland. On Saturday morning, more than 700 people showed their support of the 265,000 black and brown individuals who disappear every year.
At the start of the race, the throng stood poised to jump into action. And at the start and finish line, enthusiastic supporters cheered on the athletes.
Twenty-two minutes later, the first runner crossed the finish line.
After the race, everyone milled around in the parking lot overlooking the water. People chatted, laughed and enjoyed the sunshine and the warm weather which happened to be a vast improvement from last year. Young and old unwound by dancing to pulsating music provided by a DJ, then cheered loudly as Fox 5 Anchor Allison Seymour and Fox’s Community Relations Manager Micheline Bowman announced winners of each category.
“This year, our focus is on empowering our community to take action,” said Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation. “People need to tell what they know and do and say something. Too many of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are going missing. One million people of color have been reported missing in the past five years.”
“There are a number of reasons such as the increase in the number of people who are lured into sex trafficking, especially teens. We need better laws. And parents need to do a better job and know what their children are doing on Facebook, social media and in their free time.”
Grieving friends and family members couldn’t contain their anguish and a palpable sense of sorrow pervaded the event. Missing eight-year-old Relisha Rudd wasn’t far from many people’s minds. She disappeared in March after leaving in the company of Kahlil Tatum, a janitor at a homeless shelter in Southeast.
Michael Muse’s son Christian, who’s been missing for almost two years, appeared on the race flyer. The older Muse ran in the event and dozens of family and friends came out to remember Christian.