Have You Seen Them? Missing people of color continue to receive less priority than their White counterparts

The NNPA, which represents the hundreds of newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, asks for the help of all to locate these lost children.

by Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


On May 13, Madaya Owens, a 17-year-old from Sevierville, Tenn., went missing.

Madaya is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 213 pounds.

She has black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about Madaya should call the Sevierville Police Department at 1-865-453-5506.


Sixteen-year-old Shawn Kennedy was last seen in Rancho Cordova, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2020.

He is 5 feet 10 inches, weighs 160 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. If you have any information, call 1-800-THE-LOST.

Just weeks earlier, on Oct. 7, 2020, 13-year-old Kaylisha Johnson disappeared from her home in Quincy, Ill. The teenager has brown hair and brown eyes and stands 5-feet-three-inches tall. Kaylisha weighs approximately 110 pounds.

If anyone has information about Kaylisha, please call the Quincy Police Department at 1-217-222-9360.

The three teens represent just a tiny fraction of the more than 425,000 missing children in America – 40 percent of those who are Black.

Specifically, 156,000 African American children under 18 are missing and unaccounted.

Other than by their families, neighbors and friends, it can appear that most of these young people are forgotten — even by law enforcement officials charged with solving the ever-growing body of cold cases.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) continues its series on the plight of missing African American girls and boys who have disappeared.

Throughout the series, which began in 2019, a common theme emerged: Black children who go missing receive far less media coverage and police priority than White children.

The NNPA, which represents the hundreds of newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, asks for the help of all to locate these lost children.

Regularly shining a spotlight on the missing and providing the coverage missing individuals of color rarely receive will remain a mission of the Black Press, said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

The NNPA’s executive team includes National Chair Karen Carter Richards of the Houston Forward TimesFirst Vice-Chair Janis Ware of the Atlanta VoiceSecond Vice Chair Fran Farrer of the County News in Charlotte, National Secretary Jackie Hampton of the Mississippi Link in Jackson, MS and National Treasurer Brenda Andrews of the New Journal & Guide in Norfolk, VA.

Each has expressed their concern over the epidemic of missing children of color.

Organizations like the Black & Missing Foundation, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the African American Juvenile Justice Project, have remained vigilant.

“Our children and young adults are often adulterated and are less likely seen as victims. We see this in addressing just JUST US – Juvenile Urban Sex Trafficking in the United States – where Black, African American, and Afro Latinas are less likely seen as victims of kidnapping or missing by force or coercion,” Sherri Jefferson of the African American Juvenile Justice Project (AAJJP) told NNPA Newswire.

The most recent list of missing also includes Sincere Grimes, 13, who disappeared from Millington, Tenn., on May 17, 2021. While a complete description of Sincere is lacking, Millington Police said anyone with information should call 1-901-872-3333.

Jefferson demanded that communities embrace the “each one, teach one to reach one” approach.

“We cannot go it alone. Why are we missing? Our community lives in isolation with a no-snitch; no one sees or hears anything attitude,” Jefferson said.

“It’s hurting our community. Our children and families are suffering. Hence, there is a big difference between a snitch and a good Samaritan.”

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