Ryan Coogler and Jesse Williams Discuss Importance of #JusticeForFlint Event Being Held Sunday

The Blackout for Human Rights-organized event will raise money for Flint, Mich., residents and provide them with entertainment and a forum for their voices to be heard.

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Justice for Flint

On Sunday night, while many people are focused on the Oscars, others will be focused on #JusticeForFlint. Blackout for Human Rights will hold a free concert to stand in solidarity with those affected by the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

Founded by Creed director Ryan Coogler, Blackout for Human Rights is a collective of filmmakers, artists, activists and concerned citizens devoting their resources to addressing the staggering number of human rights violations in the United States. Joining Coogler Sunday will be Ava DuVernay, Jesse Williams, Robert Glasper, Jussie Smollett and others as they call for action in Flint.

On Thursday, Coogler and Williams spoke about the importance of the event during the event’s kickoff call.

“This is an issue of a state-sanctioned human rights violation. It was something that we really wanted to do something about. We knew folks would be available this weekend. And turning the attention on to our brothers and sisters in Flint,” Coogler said.

“A concern that we had was, at this event, to give people a voice. Humanize the issue. We wanted to make sure that we give them a good night of entertainment. They’re a group of resilient people. But what they needed really is a break. To laugh and have fun,” Coogler continued.

Williams, who has been vocal concerning the Flint water crisis, gave insight into the history of the issues that residents in Flint have faced for some time.

“Flint didn’t exist in a vacuum before this happened. Flint has been a hotbed for social injustice for decades. From mass incarceration to school inequity. They have suffered for quite a while; state and local officials have looked anywhere but at them. When this crisis happened, Blackout really viewed it as a chance to give the community a platform to voice their own narrative,” Williams said.

Flint organizer and Michigan Faith in Action Executive Director Rick Carter told The Root that one of the issues residents face is the fact that although water is being donated, it’s not getting to people.

“There are a couple of places where the water is being donated. I know some are getting water through the Red Cross and the food banks. For whatever reason, there’s been a problem with the distribution system. If folks are donating water, why isn’t there a clear distribution system from the sites out into the community?” Carter asked.

The event, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. at the Whiting Auditorium in Flint, will also be live-streamed on Revolt. Donations will be collected via text (text JUSTICE to 83224). All funds will be used to benefit the residents of Flint impacted by the water crisis, particularly the most marginalized communities.

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