Last week, NewsOne Now investigated recent reports of missing Black girls in Washington D.C. Host Roland Martin clarified how history validates Black concern, suspicion and rage regarding the safety of Black children. “Many of us, we came of age in the late ’70s and ’80s and remember what happened in Atlanta with African-Americans coming up missing,” Martin said.
Between 1979 and 1981, Atlanta, Ga., was under an international microscope when 29 Black people, mostly male teens and young boys, were murdered or never found. The case inspired a four-hour television miniseries starring James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman, a book, “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” by acclaimed author James Baldwin and a $400,000 reward pledge from late boxing icon Muhammad Ali. A Black male, Wayne Williams, was found guilty of killing two adults, assumed to be the culprit in the other 27 cases and has remained incarcerated for over three decades. No one was ever convicted or even charged for Atlanta’s missing and murdered Black children.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department staunchly rejects the notion of a similar predator(s) abducting Black teens in the nation’s capitol. They point to data indicating there is no escalation in missing teenagers and, according to NPR, “instead contend that the public perception of an increase is actually a product of their more dedicated push to publicize these cases.” As of March 29, The New York Times reported 18 open cases of missing juveniles in the district, all of them nonwhite.