Sen. Steven Bradford (File photo)

California will become the first state in the nation to enact a law to combat the crisis of missing Black youth and young Black women by creating an “Ebony Alert” notification system. SB 673, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, and give law enforcement another tool to utilize and raise greater public awareness.

The alert system is similar to the AMBER child abduction emergency alert — an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. But unlike AMBER, which can only be used for children younger than age 18, the Ebony Alert is broader and can be used to help locate young people between the ages of 12 and 25, including those that are considered runaways, are subject to human trafficking, or are reported missing “under unexplained or suspicious circumstances.”

Related Links:

“I authored SB 673 to address the crisis of missing Black youth and young Black women”, Bradford said in a statement. “I was responsible for carrying this policy through both houses of the Legislature and to the Governor’s desk for his signature. I’m proud to say California will become the first state in the nation to tackle this heartbreaking and painful crisis that so many families feel. The Ebony Alert has the power to help bring them home,” he said.

Photos of many missing women and youth. (Black and Missing Foundation Inc.)

Although African Americans represent 13 percent of the population, people of color make up roughly 40 percent of missing persons cases.

The idea of an Ebony Alert came from the NAACP California-Hawaii State Conference last June.

“One problem with the AMBER system is the strict criteria a case must fulfill for the message to be broadcast,” stated chapter president Rick Callendar. “If these guidelines are not met, an AMBER Alert cannot be issued, and the child is labeled a runaway.”

“[SB 673] would authorize the department to activate an Ebony Alert within the appropriate geographical area requested by the investigating law enforcement agency and to assist the agency by disseminating specified alert messages and signs,” he said.

The Ebony Alerts will be issued via phone notifications, electronic billboards on highways, and local TV and radio stations based on the geographic area determined by the investigating law enforcement agency and will be sent out for missing Black youth and young Black women, including those who are victims of trafficking or whose safety is otherwise compromised.

“Senator Steven Bradford’s Ebony Alert legislation is a step in the right direction,” stated Natalie Wilson, who co-founded the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. (BAMFI). “And we hope it will encourage other legislators across the country to follow suit.

“When time is critical, we must reach the most people in the shortest time, and the media and social platforms are the only entities that have the power to amplify these stories and to keep them top of mind with the public, which is critical for bringing our loved one’s home,” she said.

The mission of the Black and Missing Foundation is to bring awareness to missing persons of color, provide vital resources and tools to missing person’s families and friends, and to educate the minority community on personal safety.

BAMFI is partnered with “Black Girl Missing,” a true-crime film produced by Lifetime as part of its ‘Ripped from the Headlines’ series.

For more information, visit