After months of speculation over whether or not more of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls would be released from their captors’ grasp, reports have surfaced that a few have run their way to freedom. Sixty-three girls and young women who Boko Haram militants kidnapped in April have reportedly escaped and returned to their villages.
Abbas Gava, a Nigerian vigilante, said to Time that he “received an alert from my colleagues … that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home.” Bukar Kyari, another vigilante, said that the girls managed to escape while their captors left them to launch an attack in the town of Damboa, according to CNN. Fifty-three Boko Haram militants, five police officers and six military troops were killed during that attack. While the girls’ escape was successful, Boko Haram militants, who want to establish an Islamist state, still have more than 200 schoolgirls in captivity.
Reports of the girls’ escape were slow to surface because of trouble with communication towers from Boko Haram attacks. But, a “high-level though unnamed security source” confirmed the escape to the news agency AFP. These confirmed reports along with videos, stories and personal testimonies are the bits of evidence that U.S. media has tried to piece together for answers. And, while the success of those attempts are questionable, social media mavens wanted to add their voice to the conversation, developing the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter and hosting rallies to show their support. Many believe that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan‘s decision to even speak out against the kidnappings was because of how viral the Twitter movement became — even First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support.
While news of the recent escape is positive, we still have to not only be aware of the more than 200 girls still in captivity, but also of what comes next for the girls who did get out. Will they have support and resources from their family or will their own stories hold enough merit for the public to shed light on their experiences? Only time will tell of how we will share that information if the remaining captive girls have a similar fate to those who escaped.
BLACK GIRLS ROCK! 23 Past & Present Honorees
1. BLACK GIRLS ROCK!
In 2006, Beverly Bond had a vision to create a mentoring program that would benefit young women of color who aspired to achieve their dreams. Her vision turned to reality in 2010 with the creation of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! an event that celebrates the achievements of Black women who've made contributions to their communities.
2. Queen Latifah- 2013 Rock Star Award
Queen Latifah will be honored with the Rock Star Award at this year's BLACK GIRLS ROCK! ceremony and it's quite obvious why she's considered a rock star! She's responsible for delivering some of the most thought provoking and women empowering lyrics in hip-hop and for successfully crossing over to Hollywood, earning the title of a successful actress and television host! Queen Latifah is a true black girl who rocks!
3. Venus Williams- 2013 Star Power Award
Venus Williams definitely has star power which is why she's receiving the Star Power Awards at this year's BLACK GIRLS ROCK! event. She’s a four-time Olympic gold medalist and a top ranked tennis star who’s been recognized as one of the greatest tennis players and athletes of all time!
4. Patti LaBelle- 2013 Living Legend Award
For almost 50 years, Patti LaBelle has been blessing us with her powerful vocals and star power! She’s a living legend and will be honored for her legendary status at this year’s BLACK GIRLS ROCK!
5. Misty Copeland- 2013 Young, Gifted & Black Award
Ground-breaking ballet dancer, Misty Copeland, is this year's Young, Gifted & Black Award recipient and for good reason, too. At only 31 years old, she's often referred to as the first black female soloist for the American Ballet Theater and a living inspiration to young ballerinas of color, everywhere!
6. Mara Brock Akil- 2013 Shot Caller Award
Mara Brock Akil will be receiving this year's Shot Caller Award for her successful career as a television writer and producer. As the producer of many of our favorite television shows including "Girlfriends", "Moesha", "The Game" and most recently, "Being Mary Jane", Mara Brock Akil is without a doubt a black girl that rocks!
7. Marian Wright Edelman- 2013 Social Humanitarian
This year's Social Humanitarian award will be received by none other than Marian Wright Edelman. At 74 years old, Marian Wright Edelman has seen it all. She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and is now an activist for children's rights as well as the president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, a voice for poor, minority and disabled children.
8. Dionne Warwick- 2012 Living Legend Award
It's quite obvious why Dionne Warwick received the Living Legend award at last year's show. Not only is she amongst the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era, but she's also a humanitarian and participated heavily in AIDS research and was appointed a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization by President Ronald Regan.
9. Kerry Washington- 2012 Star Power Award
Kerry Washington was last year's Star Power Award recipient and as the lead actress in ABC's highly rated and most Tweeted about series, "Scandal", it's obvious why she rocks! When she's not acting, she's often called a political activist. She spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and is an avid supporter of President Obama. She's also spent time volunteering through the Adopt-a-Classroom program.
10. Susan Taylor- 2012 Inspiration Award
Former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, writer and journalist, Susan L. Taylor, was last year's Inspiration Award recipient. She was once named "the most influential black woman in journalism" by the American Libraries and after spending over 30 years at Essence, she is definitely an inspiration not only to aspiring black journalists but to women, everywhere! Susan L . Taylor, you rock!
11. Alicia Keys- 2012 Rock Star Award
Alicia Keys received last year's Rock Star Award not only for her work as a musician, pianist and singer/songwriter but for her ability to change the way we listen to music as a whole! Not only is she amazing behind the keyboard, but she's a hard working philanthropist and is the the co-founder and Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit that provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa.
12. Janelle Monae- 2012 Young, Gifted and Black Award
Last year's Young, Gifted and Black award went to the talented Janelle Monae. In 2012, she was just making a name for herself amongst some of the greats in the music industry and right from the start it was obvious that Janelle was a black girl who rocked. So far, her success has earned her six Grammy nominations and spots on the top of the music charts--and she's only just getting started!
13. Dr. Hawa Abdi- 2012 Social Humanitarian Award
Somalian human rights activist and physician, Dr. Hawa Abdi, was last year's Social Humanitarian Award recipient as she is the founder and chairperson of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, a non-profit organization.
14. Shirley Caesar \- 2011 Living Legend Award
Gospel singer, Shirley Caesar, received the Living Legend Award in 2011. Having won eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to date, she is often called the "First Lady of Gospel Music" and the "Queen of Gospel Music". She pastors Mount Calvary Holy Church Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and is without a doubt a living legend.
15. Angela Davis- 2011 Icon Award
Activist, scholar, and author, Angela Davis, was 2011's Icon Award recipient. She had close relations to the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Movement and is also the founder of Critical Resistance where she works to end the prison-industrial complex, a retired professor and a Feminist Studies director at University of California, Santa Cruz.
16. Taraji P. Henson- 2011 Star Power Award
As an actress and singer, Taraji P. Henson is best known for her role as Yvette in "Baby Boy" and Queenie in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Taraji received the Star Power Award in 2011. She's recently joined PETA for the 2013 campaign "Be an Angel for Animals", prompting people to keep their animals warm and indoors.
17. Laurel Richie- 2011 Shot Caller Award
As the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association, Laurel J. Richie received the 2011 Shot Caller Award. As an advocate for talented young women, Richie previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA.
18. Imani Walker and Malika Saada Saar– 2011 Trailblazer Awards
Imani Walker and Malika Saada Saar were recognized with the Trailblazer Award in 2011. As co-founders of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, these ladies were honored for their efforts on behalf of women worldwide and for paving the way to advance the rights of vulnerable women in the US and in Africa through their organization.
19. Tatyana Ali- 2011 Young, Gifted & Black Award
Tatyana Ali is best known for her acting and singing abilities but she is much more than just a Hollywood star. She received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University in African-American studies and government and was a spokesperson for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, heading voter registration on colleges. Tatyana was 2011's Young, Gifted & Black Award recipient.
20. Ruby Dee- 2010 Living Legend Award
Actress, journalist and activist, Ruby Dee, won the first Living Legend award in 2010. Her lengthy career has earned her Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards. Aside from her career in Hollywood, Ruby Dee and her late husband were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and were close friends with Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X.
21. Missy Elliott- 2010 Visionary Award
Known for her series of number one hits, Missy Elliott was the Visionary Award recipient in 2010. The rapper, singer, record producer and dancer is a five-time Grammy Award-winner and is the only female rapper to have six albums certified platinum by the RIAA.
22. Keke Palmer- 2010 Who Got Next?
Back in 2010, singer and actress Keke Palmer was on the brink of a successful career in Hollywood and was the obvious choice for the Who Got Next? award. Her roles on television made her the fourth highest-paid child star on the small screen. Keke is also involved in her community and works with the Boys' and Girls' Clubs, speaking to children about the importance of learning.
23. Raven-Symone- 2010 Young, Gifted & Black Award
Raven-Symone received the Young, Gifted & Black Award in 2010 for her early work as an actress and singer. She's an inspiration to young girls of color who aspire to reach their dreams, not only in acting or singing but in any facet of life!
24. Iyanla Vanzant- 2010 Motivation Award
Spiritual teacher, Iyanla Vanzant is an inspiration to us all and received the 2010 Motivation Award. Iyanla has the ability to motivate everyone she encounters through her positive words, energy and attitude. She was named one of the "100 most influential Black Americans" by Ebony magazine and listed as #7 on the 100 most spiritually influential living people by Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine.