On Saturday, filmmaker and Blackout for Human Rights Founding Member Ryan Coogler; political activist, author and commentator Van Jones, PICO National Network Live Free Campaign National Director Michael McBride, Flint Organizer and Michigan Faith in Action Executive Director Rick Carter, Justice League NYC activist Carmen Perez, and other local and national leaders gathered to spread awareness about and raise money for the Flint water crisis.
Our conversation will hopefully shed light on the situation in Flint, bring inspiration, hope and healing, and to raise awareness that helps remedy the crisis. All of us are just moved and inspired by the resiliency and strength of the community members — many of whom are disproportionately poor and of color, and who have been battling this issue for nearly two years. My hope is that we will be able to bring more attention, awareness and action to end this crisis and ensure the community can heal and once more thrive and prosper,” Rashid Shabazz, VP of communications for Campaign for Black Male Achievement and a founding member of Blackout for Human Rights, told TNJ.com.
Moderated by Van Jones, the #JUSTICEFORFLINT online chat featured live musical performances, presentations and open dialogue with the local community.
Pediatrician Dr. Rhea Boyd, who participated in the online chat, weighed in on the threat of contaminated water. Access to clean water is vital for healthy living and a basic human right. When that right is violated, it undermines people’s sense of safety and security in their homes and communities, and threatens the values on which this country was built. What is happening in Flint is a nightmare and as a pediatrician I stand with the courageous people of Flint and my fellow pediatricians, in doing whatever we can to keep families, children, and communities healthy. Additional information from the American Academy of Pediatrics for concerned parents, caregivers, and families can be found online, she said.
In addition to Coogler, the event included performances and appearances Grammy-nominated artists Janelle Monae, Ledisi, Andra Day, Vic Mensa, and Musiq Soulchild, Grammy-winning artist Robert Glasper, actor/activist and Blackout Member Jesse Williams, Empire star and activist Jussie Smollett, EBONY Magazine Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux, hip-hop artist and activist Jasiri X, hip-hop artist Mysonne, hip-hop artist Vic Mensa, hip-hop artists/producers and Detroit natives Royce da 5’9 and Denaun Porter, Flint native Jon Connor, Pastor Patrick Sanders of the New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint, and more. Comedian Hannibal Buress served as event host.
REVOLT TV served as principal media sponsor for the event, and streamed the program live on its website. National Black Programming Consortium served as a joint partner with Blackout for Human Rights on the campaign.
“Public media across broadcast and online platforms has long been a space for educating and amplifying issues impacting communities,” Kay Shaw, NBPC director of programs and acquisitions, told TNJ.com. “We are joining this campaign to raise awareness and shed light on the water crisis in Flint to keep this conversation in front of the public until it is resolved.”
About Blackout For Human Rights
BLACKOUT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS is a collective of filmmakers, artists, activists and concerned citizens devoting their resources to address the staggering number of human rights violations in the United States. The collective was founded by filmmaker Ryan Coogler and comprises both high visibility and everyday citizens. Members include Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Charles King, Ava DuVernay, Jesse Williams, Nate Parker, John Burris, Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosa Clemente, Scott Budnick, David Oyelowo, Michael McBride and many others.
Blackout has hosted national protest actions, donation drives, and special events including the recent #MLKNOW event celebrating MLK Day at Riverside Church in Harlem, which drew over 2,200 attendees and nearly half a million views online.