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Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler Use Oscar Night to Raise Money For the Flint Water Crisis


While some of our favorite stars were caught up in the Oscars hype last night, others were using their celebrity wattage to raise funds and awareness to help alleviate suffering in an American city that’s in desperate need of support. Director Ryan Coogler’s Blackout for Human Rights, as well as director Ava DuVernay organized the #JUSTICEFORFLINT fundraising event in Flint, MI last night to raise money to support the families dealing with their current water crisis.

Now, in case you’ve been living under a rock, this water crisis all started when Michigan’s state government decided to save money by switching Flint’s water supply from it’s Detroit-based water source to a local river, which was well-known to be contaminated, in the summer of 2015. Despite resident complaints of dirty, mucky water and concerns of lead poisoning, those concerns were downplayed – having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Flint is a majority-black, historically neglected city. /sarcasm

You can read more about the crisis here, and here. Well, after more complaining and a social media campaign where people were posting photos of their dirty drinking water and talking about how they needed to get their water elsewhere, the country finally took notice, and President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.

At last night’s #JusticeForFlint event, celebrities like Michigan native and music legend Stevie Wonder, singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe, and comedian Hannibal Burgess, performed and spoke alongside local Flint students, activists and residents, and the event was live-streamed thanks to Revolt.TV. Viewers could text the word “Justice” to 83224 to send donations to the #JusticeForFlint fund housed at the Tides Foundation which, according to their donation page, will:

[M]ake strategic grants to local organizations and groups that are working to improve conditions for the communities in Flint most impacted by the water crisis. We believe in people power and the ability of individuals to organize and mobilize for social change. The fund is support by Blackout for Human Rights.

The event raised over $100,000 for Flint residents last night, which DuVernay proudly tweeted:

In fact, the effort has continued to raise money long after last night’s event:

If you’d like to donate to #JusticeForFlint, you can still do so via the texting method above, or via the site set up for the #JusticeForFlint fund.

And props to all the celebrities who chose to make Oscar night about more than just pretty dresses and gold statuettes.

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.