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.
Runners are poised at the starting line of the "Hope Without Boundaries" 5K Race/Walk on Saturday, May 24. More than 700 people participated in the event which spotlights the quarter-million black and brown individuals who are kidnapped or disappear every year. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

“Really nothing has happened since my son went missing. I'm disappointed in the lack of action on the part of the police department,” said the 48-year-old Ft. Washington, Maryland resident and member of the go-go band Rare Essence. “They immediately named it non-critical. After seven months, I found out that he fell off the missing persons list and no one had informed me of it. I had to refile the case. We got some air time after 16 months of him being missing.”

“Now that I'm talking with the people at Black and Missing, I found out that he’s not even on the National Missing Person's list. We've heard that he’s been killed or in the streets looking homeless but it's always from someone who knows someone. I'm at my wits end to get someone else to care about it. What’s strange is that he hasn't touched his bank account in two years and they still haven't investigated that. I hope that this walk will show mass media that we count. People of color are underserved in missing person cases. Hopefully this will show that we have to take care of us and that there are people, black or white that care.”

Christian’s mother, Cheryl Collier, said Christian had been hanging with his father and she thought initially that they might have had a disagreement and he ran away.

“He just disappeared. In my heart I don’t think he’s dead and that he’ll just show up one day. I almost lost my mind when it happened but I have a strong faith in God; I know he’s protected,” said the federal employee who lives in Accokeek, Maryland. “This has brought our family closer together, definitely.”

Luwan Cottrell of Gaithersburg, Maryland, enjoyed the ambience while volunteering at the May 24 event which she attended for the first time.

“I didn't know too much about the 5K walk and run. My friend told me about it. I don't have kids but I wanted to participate for others kids,” said Cottrell, who wore a green shirt and a broad smile while standing in the parking lot cheering on walkers and runners as they completed their trek.

“I will do anything that I can do to help this organization. This morning, I just helped pass out T-shirts and bags as part of the hospitality team. Everyone has good energy. We all came together as one for a good cause. I would come out again next year and bring a couple friends.”

Robyn Priest and Susan Parker traveled from Baltimore to participate. Both women, members of the social and civic organization Chums, Inc. – one of the race’s sponsors – manned a table.

“There’s strength in numbers,” Parker said. “When you think that … 40 percent (of those taken) are people of color, you can’t say it’s an isolated incident. We have to use the power of communication to reach out and try to bring peace to the families.”

Sam P.K. Collins contributed to this story.