Finding Missing Black Americans, Too

A common staple of national cable news outfits is the missing person. Almost always, it is an attractive young white woman who is being pursued. But cases of the missing in the black community are routinely ignored.

To fill that void is the new series “Find Our Missing,” from TV One  that concentrates on cases of missing persons in the African-American community in hopes to stir some interest or cause someone to come forward with information, as they do in “America’s Most Wanted.”

“Black Americans make up nearly a third of all missing persons, while we’re only 12 percent of the population,” says Toni Judkins, executive vice president of original programming for TV One. “But no matter what your ethnicity, most people would agree and it’s an article of faith in the black community that the coverage of black missing persons rarely rates at the same level, especially on the national level, as our white counterparts. But our families grieve and suffer just as much and long for answers. “

Host of the show, which involves some reenactments and interviews with family and law enforcement, is someone familiar to police TV – the Emmy-winning E. Epatha Merkerson of “Law & Order.”

“The best thing you can do with celebrity is shine a light on an issue,” Merkerson told reporters at the TV critics press tour last week. “And I am my mother’s child, and so it’s important that I give back to a community that has given so much to me.

“I think that, by and large, my duty is to be the face to the call to action,” she says. “That’s where I feel I will probably serve the largest purpose is that people have known me on “Law & Order.” They trusted Van Buren. It’s a face that they can trust, hopefully.”

“Since we’ve made the announcement and started promoting this show,” says TV One president Wonya Lucas, “we have received tremendous response, positive response from the black community.

“They see the need for a show like this to represent our people and our voices. It’s timely subject matter too, because every day people of color go missing,” Lucas says. “And although our local and our regional press does a really good job of covering these stories, the simple truth of the matter is that the national press doesn’t really cover these stories to the extent that they should. And that’s the void that TV One can now fill.”

“Find Our Missing” runs Wednesdays on TV One.

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