Bruno Mars is donating $1 million from his Michigan concert to aid those affected by the Flint water crisis. Mars told the audience Saturday at his show in Auburn Hills that he and tour promoter Live Nation are redirecting funds from the concert to The Community Foundation of Greater Flint, a charity.
In 2014, Flint switched water sources and failed to add corrosion-reducing phosphates, allowing lead from old pipes to leach into the water. Mars says in a statement that “as people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”
A black woman-owned construction company has been awarded a federally funded service contract to replace thousands of water pipes in Flint, Michigan. As part of a $97 million settlement to replace corroded pipes by 2020, the state has contracted WT Stevens Construction, which became a state-certified lead abatement specialty company in 2016, along with three other companies.
The companies will replace more than 18,000 pipes across the city, The Network Journal reported earlier this month. Rhonda Grayer, vice president of the family-owned company, told The HUB Flint that this contract is the “biggest project we’ve done.”
WT Stevens’ $10.9 million contract is the largest deal with the city for replacing service lines, according to MLive. It is responsible for addresses in Wards 3, 4, 8 and 9. The city allotted $25 million for the project in total. Grayer’s husband, Jeff Grayer, serves as the project manager. He told TNJ that about 800 waterlines have been replaces so far and he hopes to have 6,000 replaced by the end of 2017.
“Our company is usually the only African American-owned business to respond to request for proposals for various Flint city contracts even now after the court rulings related to the water crisis,” he said. “This is a major project that will ensure public safety and start rebuilding trust between the city and the community … something that has been missing awhile.” He said the goal is to “have all 18,000 lead-corroded residential pipes replaced by December 2019.”
The company has hired about 20 staff members, including ex-offenders and young people, and a video team to document the piping being replaced. Grayer said she’s following the example her late dad and founder of the company set for making a positive impact on the community. “I will tell you that it is really exciting and the most important part of it is the opportunity to employ people who may not have had other opportunities,” she told The HUB Flint.
According to Deadline.com, Queen Latifah and Jill Scott have signed on to the Lifetime TV movie about the Flint Water crisis.
Latifah will executive produce the project, reuniting with “The Wiz Live” and “Steel Magnolias” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Steel Magnolias” was the network’s third-most-watched original telecast ever. Latifah will also portray a resident of Flint fighting to expose the poisoning of the community.
The script is inspired by the Time magazine cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” which “follows the story of three women from Flint who sought justice following the wrongdoing committed against the residents of the city who were unknowingly drinking and using lead-laden water. Their actions inspired a national movement for safe drinking…”
Big Sean is wasting no time this new year, and is currently busy readying his forthcoming album, I Decided.
On top of promoting the project, the G.O.O.D. Music recording artist also made time for something else that is important to him: showing love to where he came from and giving back how he can. The Michigan native recently stopped by The Daily Show to discuss why he chose to donate money to the Flint water crisis.
During the interview, Big Sean revealed that through his foundation, he has been able to raise roughly $100,000 to help assist the people of Flint, Michigan.
“I just know it’s not even close to being over,” the rapper shares with host Trevor Noah. “In that situation, I feel like, it’s not a natural disaster. It’s something that should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented, so it’s just disgusting to think about the damages that these families and even kids have to go through with the lead poisoning.”
On top of the Flint water crisis being an ongoing problem since roughly April 2014, when reports first shed light on the catastrophic reality that the drinking water had been contaminated by lead, the rapper also revealed just how close to home the issue hits, explaining that his own mother had been personally affected. “It was very hard for her to deal with, but she was able, through holistic care and homeopathic remedies, was able to reverse a lot of the effects of lead poisoning,” Big Sean says.
On top of donating financially, the rapper also is giving back to the community, by way of featuring the Flint Chosen Choir in his music, incorporating the local choir on his single “Bigger Than Me.”
U.S. policymakers need comprehensive, unbiased research if they are to adequately address America’s racial inequality, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson told CNBC on Thursday.
Wilson’s call for research follows two years of political unrest that have swept the nation following controversies, such as the fatal police shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in Minnesota and the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
“People have been exposed to multiple and reinforcing hardships — racial hardships and economic hardships,” Wilson told “Squawk Box.”“What we hope to do is to analyze these problems at once.”
On Feb. 28, comedian Hannibal Buress, Creed director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, singer Janelle Monae, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, Selma director Ava DuVernay, and other entertainment notables will be joining forces onstage for a free event in Flint, Michigan, BuzzFeed News can exclusively reveal. The Buress-hosted gathering, dubbed #JUSTICEFORFLINT, is open to the public and presented by Blackout for Human Rights, an activist collective founded by Coogler which is devoted to addressing human rights violations in the U.S.
For almost two years, Flint’s residents — many of whom are black and impoverished — have been subjected to massive lead and bacterial contamination in Genesee County’s water supply, and forced to avoid tap water.
#JUSTICEFORFLINT will take place at the Whiting Auditorium (1241 E. Kearsley St.) on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET to raise both awareness and funds for those affected by the water crisis. It will also be live-streamed via revolt.tv, and donations will be collected at the event and via text. Along with all the star power, organizers have also invited members of the Flint community to share their stories with the audience.
“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,” Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “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.”
Though the event does coincide with the Academy Awards — which largely snubbed Creed in nominations and did the same with DuVernay’s Selma last year — Coogler said Feb. 28 was chosen because it fell on the final weekend of Black History Month, and that the date overlap was a coincidence.
The idea for #JUSTICEFORFLINT emerged at Blackout’s last event #MLKNOW held on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 28), which took place at Riverside Church in Harlem and drew more than 2,200 attendees and nearly half a million views online.
Something tells me we will soon have to invent a new way to say “slay,” because if the boss moves perpetrated in the last two days by Beyoncé have shown us anything, they’ve shown us she has every intention of erecting on top of the foundation she laid with 2013’s “Beyoncé” an impenetrable Fortress of Slayage where the word will soon retire itself (because really, where else has it to go?).
To recap, not only did Queen Bey the day before the Super Bowl drop her “Formation” video – which the internet is still feverishly and giddily unpacking – she performed it at halftime, paid homage to the Black Panthers in the Bay Area on their 50th anniversaryduring the 50th Super Bowl, paid homage to Malcolm X with her squad’s literal formation, and then claimed the commercial space right after halftime to announce her Formation World Tour, which kicks off April 27 in Miami. Phew! No wonder “slay” is ready for a permanent vacation.
According to usatoday.com, the Formation World Tour will be hitting cities nationwide including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. It ends June 12 in Hershey, Penn., before a string of European dates get underway June 28. Tickets go on sale beginning Tuesday for American Express and Beyhive fan club members, and to the general public starting Feb. 16. [Tour dates listed below.]
But that’s not all new world leader Yoncé’s got going on – along with the tour, the singer also launched a new initiative to aid the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“True to her life’s work of always giving back, fans will be given the opportunity to participate in Beyoncé’s #BeyGOOD initiative supporting local United Way programs,” Live Nation released in a statement, announcing that the United Way of Genesee County will partner with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to “create a fund that will address long-term developmental, education, nutrition and health needs of the children affected by the Flint Water Crisis.”
According to MLive, The G.O.O.D. Music President recently sent two unsuspecting drivers from his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia to Flint with a pair of semi-trucks loaded with 2,000 cases of water to assist those in need of clean water in the Michigan town.
“I knew who was bringing water but I didn’t know who was actually shipping it,” said W.I. James, who was at the helm of one of the semis traveling 830 miles. “All I know is that it was donated.”
Lakeesha Atkinson, member of the philanthropic Partners in the Community, unveiled that Pusha didn’t want anyone to know he was behind the donation. “He’s very humble,” she explained. “He doesn’t do anything for recognition or for the spotlight.”
It took three days to unload and distribute the water as those in charge on the ground decided to bring the water directly to residents rather than simply have a community pick-up point.
Platinum-selling rapper The Game donated half a million dollars to provide water to Flint, Michigan. On Tuesday, the Compton rapper posted a picture to his Instagram account of a wire transfer from his charity, the Robin Hood Project, to Avita for half a million bucks. Avita, an artesian alkaline water company, is matching The Game’s $500,000 for a grand total of $1,000,000.
It’s the biggest public celebrity donation so far to Flint, which is in the throes of a federal emergency after it came to light that its water supply contained high levels of lead, poisoning its people. Experts estimate that roughly 8,000 to 9,000 children under the age of six may have suffered permanent brain damage after being exposed to the tainted water. And that’s just the kids.
“It’s obviously a very big deal and a tragedy in Flint, and I saw people donating small amounts, and I just thought I’d go above and beyond that,” says The Game. “So I donated the funds from the first 11 shows of my European tour. Avita matched it and they’ll be one million bottles of water given out—33,000 bottles of water at a time because of trucking and shipping it in and out. It’s not easy shipping it out because of the snowstorms, and trucks being backed up. But we’ll get it there, however long it takes.”
“What Meek did was very generous, and that’s great. But what I want celebrities to do is to stop saying, ‘I pledge water.’ There are people who get up every morning and say they pledge allegiance to the flag, but don’t really honor it. Talk is cheap,” The Game said. “So I posted a picture of my wire transfer and I’ll post pictures of the water going into Flint every day until it’s done—not to brag, but to speak to the people who actually want to fix the problem.”
Unlike some of these other celebrities, The Game has a personal connection to the embattled City of Flint. “My sister lives in Flint with my nieces and nephews and her husband, and so it directly affected me,” he says. “I’ve got friends who are still stuck there, too. I’ve been on tour in Europe for weeks and weeks, and I wanted to do something. I try to do the best I can from wherever I am.”
Through his Robin Hood Project, The Game has donated millions to the less fortunate. “You know, the thing is man, when I first became a rapper I always said to myself that any amount of money that I acquire past getting me an apartment, a decent car, and the Internet I’d pay it forward,” says The Game.
“Once I accumulated a large amount of finances, I just started giving back randomly. At first I would do it to different places because I didn’t have a charity, then one day I came up with the Robin Hood Project because Robin Hood was my favorite cartoon back in the day—he’d rob from the rich and give to the poor. So I started giving money out of my own pockets. It wasn’t a tax write-off thing. It’s about helping your fellow people and doing the right thing, man.”
The Queen of Soul is doing her part to help residents in Flint, Mich., during the city’s water crisis. Aretha Franklin plans on donating rooms at a Holiday Inn in Southfield, a Detroit suburb, for 25-50 people, according to Click on Detroit.
In addition to the rooms, food will be provided by the local Coney Island restaurant. Franklin’s father’s church, New Bethel Baptist in Detroit, will handle the screening of Flint residents who want to participate.
“Detroiters usually come to the aid of Detroiters—and Flint is certainly regarded as Detroit,” Franklin said in an interview. “Hang in there,” she advised Flint residents.