There is a program called Find Our Missing on a new television station (TV One) aimed at older African Americans.

This program airs content about missing African American youth. It is heart wrenching to watch this program. Mainly it is hurtful to me because of the unbelievable pain a parent must feel when their child goes missing. It is one thing to deal with the death of a child but the not knowing is very harrowing for anyone who has a missing loved one. Watching this program often times reminds me of the splintering of families that occurred during slavery. In essence, it is the same thing. Imagine on the African continent when loved ones were either sold or kidnapped by slave traders and taken to the new world never to be seen or heard from again. Finally, we have a program that is dedicated to finding our missing youth and reuniting our families-especially since the African American family is already a fragile entity in 21st century America.

After viewing this program, my mind wandered back to all of those murdered children in Atlanta in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s. These children were missing for a short while but were eventually found dead.

Those murders have haunted my dreams for years. I guess it is understandably so since I was the same age as those children. I often wonder what would have become of them if they would have been allowed to live.

I am a very imaginative person. When I think of these children, I think of little people who would have grown up to become pillars of the community.

However, I am not so naive as to think of the reality that would have awaited them.  Most, if not all of those child victims lived in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Atlanta. Odds are, some of them who have become products of their neighborhoods simply because of statistics.

The verdict is still out for me as to whether Wayne Williams is actually the murderer. In actuality he was only convicted of the murder of two of the victims and they were legally adults.

It seemed for me that there was never any justice for these unfortunate youth. I find it abominable that with all of the advanced resources at the disposal of state and federal law enforcement agencies that these cases have not been cleared. I guess in essence they were cleared following the conviction of Wayne Williams.

In recent years African American authors have tried to immortalize the lives of these victims. Books such as Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones and These Bones are Not My Child’s by Toni Cade have reawakened these murders in my conscience.

Eventually I would live in Atlanta for eleven months in my late 20′s. By the middle 1990′s Atlanta had become an African American mecca. While living there I would often ask long time African American residents about the murders and it seemed that the murders for some had faded from memory. Those memories are still vivid to me. As a child in Mississippi at the time of the murders I often thought that it would only be a matter of time before the murderer would come after me. That’s just how close to home those murders were.

Even now I often think of these victims. They may be gone but they are not forgotten. As a community we should commemorate the untimely demise of these youth just as we commemorate the passing and birth of our heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther king. Jr. and Malcolm X.

Click here to view interviews about these murders: