by Latia Leonard
Nearly three weeks ago, I like millions all over the world, watched as some of the world’s biggest stars paid tribute to Aretha Franklin during her televised funeral service. One dignitary after another gave their fondest memories of Aretha, some of which included their final conversations with her. One of those speakers included retired Michigan 36th District Judge and Detroit native Greg Mathis. During his speech, he recalled his final conversation with Franklin concerning the Flint water crisis. Mathis said at the time they spoke, the State of Michigan had just announced it was discontinuing its bottled water distribution to residents. He expressed Aretha’s anger at the decision, then told the crowd and the world watching through TV that she wanted him to go to Flint and “Sock it to em!”
Mathis, a community activist in his own right, took the opportunity to remind the world that Flint still isn’t quite fixed. With a star studded audience, consisting of policy makers, former presidents, and decision makers who wield the power and influence to make a change, it only made complete sense to bring Flint to a national stage. Famed actress Whoopi Goldberg on the season opener on the ABC televised talk show ‘The View’ reiterated Mathis’s message, saying “We need more water for Flint, we got to find a way to get that back going”.
Wait there’s more. Just recently on the nationally televised ‘Miss America’ pageant, Miss Michigan’s very own Emily Sioma courageously highlighted the city’s ongoing water struggles during her opening speech. “From the state with 84 percent of the U.S. freshwater but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma,”she said. Even more recently, film producer and Flint native Michael Moore premiered his highly anticipated documentary ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’. This documentary covers in part, the Flint Water Crisis and how he believes it happened, and those responsible.
In each of these instances, powerful faces from different corners of the entertainment industry have used their platforms to do one thing in common, lift Flint back into the front of everyone’s conscious. That’s right… if the progress everyone wants to see is really going to happen we need to use our collective platforms to ensure that Flint’s recovery is still a priority both internally and externally. Keeping Flint not only in the forefront of our conscious, but also our hearts, in leading this recovery with compassion. Celebrities aren’t the only ones who can use their voices to keep Flint moving forward – using hashtags such as #FlintWaterCrisis, #FlintRecovery or #FlintLivesMatter, and making sure you are registered for the upcoming election are actions you can take to empower Flint’s progress. Let’s keep Flint moving forward together.