“If we go by the media, you would think no Black people go missing.”
And the truth is this would still be the case if it weren’t for people like Deidra Robey.
The Baton Rouge native founded “Black and Missing But Not Forgotten,” an organization dedicated to fighting for the investigation and safe return of missing Black people, in 2007 after becoming frustrated with the lack of media coverage African American cases receive.
She became interested in taking a more active role in missing persons of color after hearing the story of Stepha Henry.
“Stepha was an African American honors graduate from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York,” Robey tells JET. “At the time I was researching information about her, I came upon an article about the media bumping Stepha’s story off the air to cover a famous socialite’s trip to jail. That struck me to the core.”
At that moment, Robey knew she had to do something.
“Unfortunately, this is the story for many families of the missing that we help,” Robey states. “Stepha Henry is still classified as missing, but Kendrick Williams is accused of murdering Stepha in 2007. Her body has never been found, but her blood was found in his car.”
Williams is currently awaiting trial.
The organization seeks to raise awareness of African American missing persons via social media and its own website, which has a database of thousands of cases of Black missing persons. It aims to highlight the racial disparities in mainstream media’s reporting of the missing and seeks equal coverage of missing African Americans.
“The fact that there even needs to be a Black and Missing but Not Forgotten says that we still have a long way to go in regards to race relations in this country,” Robey states. “Can you name five missing Black men, women, or children whose case received national, around the clock media attention? Now name five white cases. You’ll probably instantly think of JonBenét Ramsey, Natalee Holloway, Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Caylee Anthony, and Elizabeth Smart.”
To date, the non-profit has expanded to include more than 146,000 members across its platforms. Robey says she hopes to bring comfort to those who have loved ones who disappeared mysteriously.
“My ultimate goal is to be the voice for the missing, work directly with the family, local police departments and the media, for our cases to receive the same notoriety and national media attention white missing women and children receive,” Robey states. “The media needs to reflect reality.”
Read more at JETMag.com.