Flint, Mich.—An International Women’s Day (IWD) March in solidarity with the Selma-to-Montgomery March 52 years ago highlighted Flint residents’ ongoing struggle for civil and human rights. Marchers chanted “Clean water–now!” “Fix our pipes!” “Flint Lives Matter!” “Love trumps hate!”
Sisters in Synergy and Women’s March (which supported numerous IWD marches nationwide) brought out a crowd which was diverse in age, gender and “race,” and, as importantly, ideas and issues. Signs linked Flint and Selma, women’s rights and Black Lives Matter, and Flint water pollution to a crisis in healthcare.
At the rally, a tiny 9-year old Flint resident with a voice that reached to the skies declared she wished she could take a shower without rashes and burning eyes. She stated her kinship with those defending clean water at Standing Rock and called upon everyone to continue to fight against water bills for water they could not use and not to rest until all the corroded pipes were replaced.
Other speakers acknowledged the Flint residents who began protesting just days after the city switched from the Detroit water system to the heavily polluted Flint River in April 2014 and who refused to be silenced. Although it took some time for the lead levels to rise, residents complained of bad smells, taste and color and a whole range of health problems. Not only they, but Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a prominent pediatrician (and immigrant from Iraq) were ignored and vilified by Governor Rick Snyder. But “Dr. Mona” persisted in revealing the state’s own data on rising lead levels until it became a national scandal. General Motors, the major industry in Flint, had stopped using Flint River water in October 2014 because it corroded their products. Flint’s state office building switched to bottled water in January 2015. There was no way the Governor didn’t know something! Since Flint returned to Detroit water in October 2015, only a fraction of the lead service pipes have been replaced.
Representative Dan Kildee, who has stood by Flint, said he wanted to be at the march because he had gone with John Lewis to the Selma-to-Montgomery re-enactment two years ago. “I realized then, “ he said, “that that march was not history. It was a fight that continues today.”
March 4, 2017