February 24, 2016
Flint, Michigan Benefit: Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler Attending, Skipping Academy Awards -- #JusticeForFlint

Flint, Michigan, will be holding a fundraising event on February 28, 2016, the same night as the Academy Awards, and there are several black celebrities who will be attending, skipping out on the award show, reports Blavity.

Filmmakers Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, actor Jesse Williams, singer Janelle Monae, comedian Hannibal Buress, and more will come together for the free event. They will be bringing awareness and raising money for the community of Flint, who are also invited to share their personal stories with the audience. The event, which is being called #JusticeForFlint, is being presented by Blackout for Human Rights, an activist collective founded by Coogler. The collective aims to bring awareness to human rights violations in the U.S.
"With the #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity, and emotional healing," Creed director Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed. "Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint's youth."

The Flint fundraiser will be taking place at the same time as the 2016 Oscars, which has created a lot of controversy this year with their lack of diversity in their acting categories. Ryan Coogler himself was one of the names mentioned when discussing who was snubbed this year, the director was not nominated for Best Director for the critically acclaimed Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise. In fact, the only person to be nominated from the film is Sylvester Stallone, with a nod for Best Supporting Actor.

Stallone himself, during an Oscar nominees luncheon earlier this month, was considering skipping out on the Academy Awards this year, out of respect for Ryan. Coogler, however, insisted that Stallone should attend. "I said, 'If you don't want me to go, I won't,' " Stallone said. "He said, 'I want you to go.' That's the kind of guy he is. He wanted me to stand up for the film."

Flint's water source was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April of 2014, a choice to save money, without the addition of appropriate corrosion control. Flint residents began complaining about issues with the water for the next 18 months, and there was evidence to support their claims. But government agencies were convinced that they didn't create the problem. In January of 2016, the state and federal government finally declared a state of emergency, gathering funds and resources to help Flint's residents.

Even though Flint's water source has been switched back to Lake Huron, damaged pipes still remain. Beyonce's #BeyGood fund will be supporting local United Way programs which are distributing thousands of filtration pitchers, faucet mount filters, and are also providing truckloads of water to Flint residents. Compton rapper The Game donated $500,000 to Flint, while the band Pearl Jam pledged $300,000. Singer Cher has donated 180,000 bottles of water to the people of Flint, and Mark Wahlberg along with Sean "Diddy" Combs have donated 1 million bottles of water to the city.

Governor Rick Snyder has pledged $30 million towards Flint residents' water portion of their bills, dating all the way back to April, 2014. In addition, Snyder has given $25 million in a supplemental budget which will be used for the city's infrastructure and replacement of lead service lines.

There will also be a live-stream of the #JusticeForFlint event this Sunday. And if you plan on skipping the Oscars as well, April Reign, the originator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, will be live-tweeting the 1999 film The Wood, which is available on Netflix, in lieu of watching the Oscars.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney]