Jo Mersa, Stephen Marley’s son and Bob’s grandson, debuts EP

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Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Manley debuts new EP ‘Comfortable.’

By Tiffany Mea

Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley, 22, the eldest son of Stephen Marley and grandson of Bob Marley, is set to release his debut EP Comfortable on June 10, 2014 on the Marley family’s imprint, Ghetto Youths International (GYI). Mersa is currently on the road performing the entire Comfortable EP as the opening act on Stephen Marley’s ‘Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life Tour.’ The tour spans over 30 cities in the United States and concludes in New Orleans, LA, on May 24.

Comfortable spans pop, hip hop, EDM and dance hall influences while showcasing his deft vocals, clever songwriting and flourishing production skills. Each of the EP’s riddims, except for “Bogus” which was produced by his uncle Damian Marley, was created by Mersa, working alongside his father’s keyboard player Llamar “Riff Raff” Brown, with Stephen Marley handling the final productions. Many of the EP’s songs focus on Mersa’s personal experience with women and their complex relationships.

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Jo Mersa performs with his father, Stephen Marley.

On the sleek electro-dance hall hybrid title track, which is also accompanied with a video, he cleverly rhymes about a budding relationship contrasted by his sweetly sung hook. On “Bogus,” he addresses a lack of sincerity in some women, while club-friendly tunes like “Bad So,” All To Me” and “Perfect 10” ft. On the EP’s first single “Sunshine,” Mersa nimbly rhymes over a bubbling dance hall rhythm embellished by gentle guitar strands. He came up with “Sunshine’s” melodic hook while singing to his baby sister and is one of the EP’s most intimate songs.

Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley grew up surrounded by music, appearing onstage, at age 4, alongside his father, his uncle Ziggy and aunts Cedella and Sharon (a.k.a. Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers) and their children as part of the group’s rousing concert finales with Mersa often taking the mic and chanting the lyrics to the Melody Makers’ biggest songs.

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Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley ponders his musical legacy.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 12, 1991, he moved to Miami at age 11 where he keenly observed his father and his uncle Damian as they created music in Stephen’s Lion’s Den studio. Back then, school was the priority for Mersa; traveling with Ziggy and the Melody Makers was reserved for school breaks and summer vacations. Yet those experiences provided first hand opportunities for him to expand his musical aspirations beyond the performance stage. He started making beats when he was about 11 and then began focusing on his songwriting and vocal delivery. As his career progresses, he looks forward to making his mark as an individual artist while continuing the Marley musical legacy.

“My father calls my grandfather a magician because he was the only man who could bring peace to his country and that’s a lot of power, influence, it’s magic, but I don’t let it get to my head,” Mersa said. “He made a big step for Jamaican music and it is time for me to add my works to it, to build on it. I am just getting started; I am just getting Comfortable.

For more information contact Tiffany@vprecords.com–OnPointPress.net.

Lorraine Hansberry documentary inspires Kickstarter project

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Boston, MA: On Monday, May 19, 2014, noted playwright Lorraine Hansberry, who died at the age of 34 in 1965, would have celebrated her 84th birthday. In celebration of her artistic impact, producers of a documentary-in-progress about Hansberry’s life have launched a Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter campaign is designed to help raise money to finish the documentary by next year in time to honor the 50th anniversary of the death of the woman best known for writing the play, A Raisin in the Sun. Hansberry’s fans are invited to support the documentary project as a special gift in her honor.

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(l-r) Documentary producers Jamila Wignot, Tracy Heather Strain and Randall MacLowry are working diligently to reach their financial target to make the documentary a reality.

Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is arguably the most famous black play ever to hit the stage in the United States. This groundbreaking work of art is taught in high schools and colleges across the country. It is continually in rehearsal or production on stages of all sizes across the world. Today, audiences are again flocking to the Barrymore Theater in New York City to see the Tony-nominated revival starring Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington in the lead role. Academy Award-winner Sidney Poitier and the original cast first brought down the house in 1959, when the play opened in the same theater.

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Academy Award-winner Sidney Poitier poses with Tracy Heather Strain, co-producer of  the documentary about Lorraine Hansberry, which is being funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

“What shone through in the play was Hansberry’s artistic and political honesty,” wrote Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in a recent blog post on The Root. What has gotten lost over time, though, is the full character of the play’s author. Often reduced to being a one-hit wonder who died young from cancer, Hansberry was much more than A Raisin in the Sun. Far from the bright lights of Broadway, a small team in Boston’s Fort Point Channel neighborhood has been working to change that limited perspective of the outstanding writer.

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of 'A Raisin in the Sun.'

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

Tracy Heather Strain and Randall MacLowry, who operate as The Film Posse, are producing the documentary about the life, art and times of Hansberry. Nearly a decade in the works, the film will uncover Hansberry’s complex and compelling life. Often positioned as an integrationist when A Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway, her message was much more revolutionary and radical. Her great friend James Baldwin wrote, “Lorraine made no bones about asserting that art has a purpose, and that its purpose was action.”

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Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson lead an impressive cast in the current revival of ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

Strain and MacLowry are making the film with a diverse group of professionals who live in various locales. New York-based executive producer Chiz Schultz, a veteran producer of feature films, documentaries and children’s television, lives in Nyack. Jamila Wignot, a two-time Peabody award-winning Brooklyn-based filmmaker joined the the team officially last year to co-direct and produce. Harlem-based Kim Miille, an editor whose credits include The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross has signed on. And so has acclaimed clarinetist and composer Don Byron to write the musical score.

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Loorraine Hansberry’s treasure trove of literary works.

Hansberry demanded a public voice at a time when women were meant to be content to support the aspirations of their husbands. One of the headlines about her success read, “Housewife’s Play Is A Hit.” That was just one of the boxes she was put in. When challenged, however, she didn’t back down, tangling with the likes of Mike Wallace, David Susskind, Norman Mailer and Robert Kennedy.

“Her interests were wide and deep, and she was interested in all people,” remarked Heather Strain. “Yes, she fought for African-American civil rights most of her life, but she also was committed to fostering a fair and just global society. Her weapon of choice was her words, and she explored a multitude of issues in her writing that we are still wrestling with today.”

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The current revival of the iconic play runs through June 15.

Though documentaries have increased in popularity, bringing Hansberry’s story to the screen remains challenging. Compared to personal or contemporary vérité documentaries, historical documentaries are expensive. One issue is the cost of licensing archival material used to craft a story of this nature.

“We estimate our rights cost to be $300,000,” says producer MacLowry. “After we locate materials we’d like to include in the documentary, we have to pay for almost everything that ends up on the screen. This includes photos, archival footage, movie clips, newspaper headlines and personal papers, as well as period music and literary rights.”

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Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington has garnered acclaim for his lead role in the current revival of the play.

In 2005 when the rights began to expire for Eyes on the Prize, the landmark series about the civil rights movement, the challenge of rights costs became public. Almost a million dollars needed to be raised to re-license the archival material and music.

The filmmakers have made great progress in realizing their goals. They have shot 19 interviews, including Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Glynn Turman as well as Lorraine’s sister and cousin, among others. Recently, the project received a highly competitive production grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise some of additional funds they need to reach their production budget. For Strain, it is worth the effort.

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Lorraine Hansberry, who blazed a scorching trail in the literary and entertainment worlds, would have celebrated her 84th birthday on 5/19. Her life story is being told in a documentary which is funded via a Kickstarter campaign.

“The campaign also allows us to make connections with all sorts of people who are interested in Lorraine Hansberry, which is extremely motivating,” she said. “I also strongly feel that understanding the past is key to solving issues that face us today. In this media-rich environment, we must continue to make films that examine the past, no matter if the path to do so is challenging.”

To support the Kickstarter campaign, contact the filmmakers toll-free at (855)-TFP-FILM, twitter.com/hansberrydoc and facebook.com/hansberrydocumentary. –OnPointpress.net.

#BringBackOurGirls effort grows but girls’ captivity continues

 

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Nigerian protestors urge their government to act decisively to rescue the kidnapped girls.

 By Carmen Glover

Five weeks have passed since close to 300 school girls were abducted by the Boko Haram Islamic extremists in Chibok, and in other towns in northern Nigeria. Emboldened Boko Haram members have continued their efforts of wanton slaughter of the helpless residents, while Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan retreats, abandoning plans on Friday, May 16, to visit Chibok to meet with the parents of the kidnapped girls, citing “safety concerns.”

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been slow to act in rescuing the abducted girls.

On Monday, May 12, Boko Haram released a video of what seemed like 100 or so of the scared school girls, dressed in Muslim garb, chanting words that implied that they have converted to the Muslim religion. In the meantime, special forces from the international community including the United States, Britain and France have conducted flyovers in the mountainous areas in Nigeria, determined to search for the girls and bring them home.

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Video released on 5/12/2014 by Boko Haram, allegedly of the kidnapped girls.

As the parents continue to march, protest the lack of urgency by the Nigerian government and appeal for sustained international support, the plight of the kidnapped girls takes on greater significance. Speculation continues to swell that the girls have been separated and some of them already sold of as ‘brides’ to some of the Boko Haram extremists, despite the girls ranging in age for 9 to 18.

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Protesters demand results as one month has passed since the girls were kidnapped.

The social media activism via the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag has gained momentum, however, and the quest to keep the circumstances surrounding the plight of the girls in the public consciousness continues unabated. The girls’ save return is the number one objective of caring members of the international community, even as the militant Boko Haram members insist that they will negotiate the girls’ release in exchange for the freedom of some of their incarcerated members.  More protests are expected as the parents and global supporters take whatever actions they can to keep focus squarely on the plight of these girls. -OnPointPress.net.

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9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony uplifts, inspires

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Former NYC Mayor and 9/11 board chairman Michael Bloomberg, view the 9/11/ Memorial Museum with Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By Carmen Glover

U.S. President Barack Obama led a high-powered contingent of politicians to dedicate the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan yesterday in a ceremony that was uplifting and inspiring. Dignitaries, families of the survivors and viewers who watched the ceremony live on television or as it streamed online, were first treated to musical renditions from various choirs as the ceremony got underway. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the 9/11 board of directors, took the stage to deliver a poignant speech.

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President Obama speaks at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony.

“We are here today to help dedicate a great museum, one that rises out of the bedrock of our city, our history and our hearts. In the years to come, the 9/11 Memorial Museum will take its place alongside fields of Gettysburg, the waters of Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam Veterans’ Museum as a sacred marker of our past and a solemn gathering place-a place where we can remember those who dies and honor acts of courage and compassion that saved lives and lifted spirits,” he said.

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President Obama began by describing the raw emotions felt by some of the survivors in the moments after the towers were attacked and the acts of heroism by one young man in particular.

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Visitors gather outside as the 9/11 Memorial Museum is dedicated inside.

“In those awful moments after the south tower was hit, some of the injured huddled in the wreckage of the 78th floor. The fire was spreading and the air was filled with smoke. It was dark and they could not see. It seemed as if there was no way out and then there was a voice saying he had found the stairs. They didn’t know his name but they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandana,” he said, describing the selfless and courageous actions of volunteer firefighter Wells Crowther, 24, who worked in the south tower.

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Partial view of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan.

Crowther’s mother, Alison, was later joined onstage by one of the women he rescued, Liang Young.

“My husband Jefferson and I couldn’t be prouder of our son,” said Alison Crowther, as she described her son who saw everyone in the world as “being connected.”

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President Obama, Former President Bill Clinton and Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg tor the 9/11 Memorial Museum with their partners First Lady Michelle Obama, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Financial Executive Diane Taylor.

Obama shared that while touring the museum earlier with First Lady Michelle Obama, it dawned on them the importance of being able to “recall, reflect and reaffirm the true spirit of 9/11: love, compassion, sacrifice and to enshrine it forever in the heart of our nation.” Biting his lower lip in his trademark style, he paused and said:

“No act of terror can match the strength and character of our country. Nothing can ever break us, nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

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Damaged fire truck from the fateful day that is now enshrined in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Among the other attendees were: Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NJ Governor Chris Christie, Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani; Former New York Governor George Pataki and a contingent representing the Port Authority, firefighters, police officers, families of the victims and survivors. Some of the politicians had their spouses or significant others with them at the event.

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Security detail at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony in Lower Manhattan.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum will remain open for the next six days exclusively to the families of the victims and survivors. It will open to the public officially on 5/21/2014.–OnPointPress.net

Notable takeaways from the 2014 NFL draft

Teddy Bridgewater seems to the quarterback of the future for the Minnesota Vikings.

Teddy Bridgewater seems to the quarterback of the future for the Minnesota Vikings.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Football League (NFL) completed its amateur draft on Saturday, giving 256 young men an opportunity to live out their dream of playing professional football. While Johnny Manziel and Michael Sam have received the bulk of the recognition from this draft, there were a few other players that seem to be in a great position to make their General Managers look good. The Heisman finalists, in particular, did well.

Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks are widely regarded as the most important position in the NFL and there were a few that were drafted that seem to be in excellent positions to contribute to their teams.

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Teddy Bridgewater inspires hope for the Minnesota Vikings’ future.

Teddy Bridgewater – Bridgewater was selected 32nd overall with the last pick of the first round. The Vikings traded up to take a player that was rumored to go near the top of the draft. The Vikings plan to ease Bridgewater into the mix and he may not play this season. However, Bridgewater seems to be the quarterback in the best position for long-term success.

Derek Carr might be the first of the drafted quarterbacks to take the field this season.

Derek Carr might be the first of the drafted quarterbacks to take the field this season.

Derek Carr – Carr was drafted 36th overall by the Oakland Raiders and is not going to a team full of offensive talent. However, the Raiders do not have a great deal invested in incumbent starting quarterback Matt Schaub. The Raiders have focused on improving their defense so when Carr is eventually the starter, there can be a balanced team waiting for him.

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Tom Savage is not expected to make much of a difference to the Houston Texans this season.

Tom Savage – Savage was drafted in the 4th round by the Houston Texans but will not be expected to contribute to the team this season. The Texans will hope that they can develop Savage into the long-term starter to replace the turnover- prone Schaub from last season.

The 2014 Heisman finalists were heavily represented in this year's draft. (l - r)  Jordan Lynch, Johnny Manziel, Tre Mason, AJ McCarron, Andre Williams, and Jameis Winston. Winston was not eligible for the draft but is expected to be taken high next year.

The 2014 Heisman finalists were heavily represented in this year’s draft. (l – r) Jordan Lynch, Johnny Manziel, Tre Mason, AJ McCarron, Andre Williams, and Jameis Winston. Winston was not eligible for the draft but is expected to be taken high next year.

2014 Heisman Candidates

Five of the six 2014 Heisman candidates were eligible for this year’s draft and 4 of them were drafted. QB Jordan Lynch signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.

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Tre Mason was drafted early in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Rams.

Tre Mason – Mason was drafted early in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Rams to be a backup running back. Mason had an exciting career as a running back and returner at Auburn and the Rams are hoping to be able to add depth to an important position in the Rams game plan.

Running back Andre Williams will have a chance to help the Giants this season if he proves himself during the offseason.

Running back Andre Williams, who boasts Jamaican heritage, will have a chance to help the Giants this season if he proves himself during the offseason.

Andre Williams – Williams was selected in the 4th round by the New York Giants. Williams is in the best position to contribute next season as there is less defined depth at running back for the Giants.

The Giants will hope that Williams can help provide some balance to their pass heavy offense.

Andre Williams transitions from Boston College to the New York Giants, trading in one big city for another.

Andre Williams transitions from Boston College to the New York Giants, trading in one big city for another.

Johnny Manziel – Manziel was selected 22nd by the Cleveland Browns. There are many questions as to whether Manziel’s improvisational style at quarterback will transition well to the NFL. The Browns have made it clear that they believe in Manziel, as their backup quarterback, for now.

AJ McCarron – McCarron was drafted in the 5th round by the Cincinnati Bengals to likely be a backup quarterback. The Bengals’ current starter Andy Dalton has shown improvement in the regular season but has yet to lead his team to a playoff victory. The Bengals are hoping McCarron’s collegiate playoff experience will be a benefit to their team.

Michael Sam

Michael Sam became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft. He is headed to the St. Louis Rams to join Heisman finalist Tre Mason.

Ground Breaking Event

Michael Sam, who declared his sexuality prior to the draft, became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL. He will join Mason as teammates.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Scholarship opportunities available for students with UFSC

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By Ditu Kasuyi

The Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) is trying to find 30 of the nation’s brightest, motivated and highly intelligent high school and college students to participate in the nation’s most unique, exciting and challenging leadership development program for young people – the MARK I (MI) UFSC Emerging Leaders – National Apprentice Challenge (See attachment).

The MARK I Emerging Leaders – National Apprentice Challenge is a one-year group business competition that focuses on the development of critical foundational management and leadership skills through an intensive five-day leadership program. The components of this program include personal development and management issue oriented seminars, developmental heat through an apprentice style group competition and the opportunity to apply the skills learned through the completion of a challenging community action task.

The MARK I program will take place from June 1 through June 7, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Activities for the MARK I program will take place at the Club Quarters Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.

The MARK I program promises to make the young people stand out from the crowd and the cost is only $625 That’s right only $625. This registration fee covers the hotel room for 8 days and seven nights. UFSC will be covering the cost of facilitators, program materials, post conference webinars/tele-seminars, learning materials, breakfast and lunch and other cost associated with administrating such a dynamic leadership program. Only the UFSC can deliver a year-long leadership develop program such a low price. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to Chicago, Illinois.

Interested students are asked to complete the attached application and return it to the UFSC national office by May 30, 2014, or Click Here to Register online. If you should have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Melanie Lee at Melanielee@mleelaw.com or me 804-651-7739/Email Ditu.Kasuyi@dla.mil.–OnPointPress.net.

#BringBackOurGirls is the global cry this Mother’s Day

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Nigerian mothers weep for their  daughters who were kidnapped nearly one month ago.

By Carmen Glover

Today is Mother’s Day, a day when mothers typically revel in the joys of parenting. But for the mothers in Chibok, Nigeria, whose 276 daughters were kidnapped by members of the Boko Haram, an Al Qaeda-trained Islamist group, today is not a happy day.

While the initial 276 girls have yet to be found, another 9 were kidnapped on Monday, as the leader of Boko Haram, Abubaker Shekau, gleefully threatened to sell the girls into slavery or forced marriage for $12 each. On May 15, exactly one month will have passed since the 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school and close to two weeks will have passed since the additional 9 girls were taken. The kidnapped girls range in age range from 9 to 18.

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The pained and saddened faces of girls as they bravely protest the kidnappings.

“I will sell your girls,” said Abubaker Shekau, the group’s leader, mockingly waving his fingers in the camera with impunity. “I sell women. I will sell them for $12.”

Shekau and his members have unleashed a reign of violence and terror in Nigeria for the past four years, ramping up their exploits in the recent months, published reports indicate. The name of the terrorist organization Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful,” and the group has rampaged across Nigeria murdering innocent civilians and kidnapping children in a bold quest to convert the residents to their way of thinking or punish them for daring to reject such extremism.

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Nigerian mothers weep and wail in despair, consumed by grief and uncertainty about the fate of their beloved daughters.

As global attention coalesces around the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, mothers in Nigeria can take some solace this Mother’s Day that the world is finally paying attention and making concerted efforts to find their kidnapped daughters and bring them home. However, while other mothers celebrate with their children this Mother’s Day, the mothers of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria weep. Some mothers across the globe will weep too, cognizant of the fact that their daughters were spared such an awful fate, merely due to their geographic location.

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Pain and anger are emotions that are visibly etched on the face of this protestor .

U.S. President Barack Obama sent a team of security experts on Friday to Nigeria to provide intelligence and specialized support to the Nigerian Army in the effort to rescue the girls. Britain, France and China also sent experts to the region and it would not be surprising if more countries decide to provide aid of some kind. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been reviled by his people as being too slow to act, offered a $300,000 reward for information leading to the location of the girls and said “everything must be done,” to bring them back safely, because “as a father I feel pains.”

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama joins the movement.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama joins the movement and poses with her sign.

Delivering her first solo message this weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama said that both the she and President Obama “are outraged and heartbroken by the kidnappings,” which she called “unconscionable.” She added, “We can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.” Earlier in the week, she posed with her #BringBackOurGirls poster, making it clear that the issue resonated with her as the mother of two girls.

Children have played a vital role in publicizing the plight of the kidnapped girls.

Children have played a vital role in  joining their parents to publicize the plight of the kidnapped girls.

Last weekend, social media was ablaze and exploded as online news organizations and people who care sent the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag trending. Social media users showed their disgust with the lack of solid action in the wake of the mass kidnappings. The unrelenting #BringBackOurGirls movement has garnered international attention and forced Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to publicly state that he will take action to secure the girls’ safe return. But his actions have been viewed with skepticism by Nigerian nationals, especially since he declined international help for so long, further endangering the girls’ lives.

Protestors have been vocal, vigilant and steadfast in their efforts.

Protestors have been vocal, vigilant and steadfast in their efforts.

It does not help President Jonathan’s case that Amnesty International asserted on Friday that the Nigerian government was warned that the Boko Haram troops were targeting the area hours before the girls were taken, but nothing was done. Reports have also emerged to suggest that the terrorist groups could be better armed and more motivated than the official government forces, which makes preserving the safety of the country’s residents very problematic.

Women protest and grieve for their kidnapped daughters.

Women protest and grieve for their kidnapped daughters.

“They have accepted our help through a combination of military, law enforcement and other agencies,” President Obama told news outlets earlier last week. Describing the terroristic acts of Boko Haram he said; “They’ve been killing people ruthlessly for many years now. This might be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization.”

Heartbroken fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and supporters take action.

Heartbroken fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and supporters take action.

For almost one month these mothers and their families have been in profound, indescribable pain that knows no limit. The sense of helplessness felt by the men in those families, wracked with guilt, anger and despair that they were unable to protect their innocent little girls is unimaginable.

For mothers who are able to hug their daughters today and celebrate the joys of motherhood, it is important to take some time to say a prayer for the safe return of all those abducted girls because their safety could depend on it. –OnPointPress.net.  

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