SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A California woman created a website to share stories of the missing Black women and girls across the U.S.
Erika Marie Rivers launched the OurBlackGirls.com site in 2018 because she wanted to create a space for family members to know their loved ones are not forgotten. She said many stories about missing Black women and girls rarely receive national attention or they are never even told.
“They deserve an article to be written about them, whether it’s one or 10,” Rivers said. “Someone deserves recognition from our mainstream media. That wasn't happening with Black women, that’s not happening with Black girls.”
Rivers said she combs through government websites for missing women and children to find these stories.
To date, OurBlackGirls.com has more than 560 entries, but that’s only a fraction of how many women disappear every year.
According to the National Crime Information Center’s Missing and Unidentified Person Files, in 2020, nearly 100,000 Black women and girls were reported missing.
It is the second largest group, compared to white women and girls; Asian and Indian ethnicities had nearly 5,000 missing cases reported that year.
Rivers said many don’t have the support or resources to get their stories told.
“Our underserved communities and in redline districts, marginalized communities, in Black communities, we don’t have that a lot for families. They don’t have that community or people to pay attention to what they're doing. We have people that have gone missing that have never had an article written about them,” she said.
One article currently on the site is about San Diegan Felicia Johnson, who disappeared in Houston in April.
“Like Felicia Johnson, hopefully it brings in more attraction. I hope that we are able to build enough of putting that story on everyone’s radar that we can bring her home. We can show her family that despite it all people do care,” said Rivers.
Felicia’s father, Kevin Johnson, has gone to Houston to search for his daughter. He said, “I'm not going to leave here until I have a definite answer about what happened to my daughter.”
Rivers said, “Her father is literally crying on television. I just think that we all, not just readers but the media, we need to be a little more sensitive to that.”
Rivers said she connects with many family members whose loved ones are highlighted on her site. She wants them to be able to have a voice, to share their pain, worry, and more.
Rivers doesn’t know what the future holds for Our Black Girls, but she’s going to continue to share one story at a time.
“Showing the world Black women are much more than what they are portrayed to be. We are deep, we are sensitive, and we are nurturers, whether we're mothers or not. We are sisters and we are connected in ways we don’t understand. We see and hear each other and that’s just a beautiful thing to me,” said Rivers.
Rivers said she launched the website as a passion project and it takes a lot of time, but she believes the stories she gets to share are worth it.
The OurBlackGirls.com site is updated daily.