After receiving her letter, President Obama visits “Little Miss Flint”
By now, most are aware of the Flint, Michigan water crisis and the thousands of children affected by lead-contaminated water after the source changed in 2014 — to dangerous result. It’s truly a nightmare for the citizens of this city and their kids, one no parent should have to endure.
One child took matters into her own hands to make sure the President knew of her city’s plight. “Little Miss Flint,” an 8-year old girl with more balls than any of us will ever have, requested to see the President on a visit to Washington. He sent her a letter saying he would rather come to where she lives, and visited the little girl in Flint this past Wednesday.
A little history first. The trouble in Flint started over two years ago when the city’s water source was switched from Detroit’s water system to its own treatment plant, which drew water from the Flint River. After doctors were noticing an uptick in lead-related symptoms in the city’s children, it was discovered that their water was full of lead and therefore, poison.
Shortly after this information came to light, the water source was switched back to Detroit’s system, but the damage was already done. The pipes are now corroded in many Flint homes and require filters to make the water safe. It’s obviously a horrible and scary situation, one many of the city’s residents are making sure the whole country knows about.
One such resident is Mari Copeny, age eight. She lives in Flint and holds the title of “Little Miss Flint.” In her letter to President Obama, she said, “I am one of the children that is effected by this water, and I’ve been doing my best to march in protest and to speak out for all the kids that live here in Flint. This Thursday I will be riding a bus to Washington, D.C. to watch the congressional hearings of our Governor Rick Snyder.”
She goes on to request a visit with the President while she’s in town, sweetly acknowledging what a tall order that might be. “My mom said chances are you will be too busy with more important things, but there is a lot of people coming on these buses and even just a meeting from you or your wife would really lift people’s spirits.”
But President Obama being the incredible human being and leader that he is did her one better — he told her he would come see her in Flint instead. In his response, he says:
Thank you for writing to me. You’re right that Presidents are often busy, but the truth is, in America, there is no more important title than citizen. And I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint.
That’s why I want you to be the first to know that I’m coming to visit Flint on May 4th. I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve. Like you, I’ll use my voice to call for change and help lift up your community.
Obama was true to his word, and the moment they met was caught on video. Let us not forget the incredibly serious reason for his visit, but please understand that this video is the most precious thing ever.
Of course, the President’s amazing way with children was evident from the moment Copeny squealed and leapt into his arms. She excitedly told him how she wrote to him and he told her how he knew and that’s why he was there. He also explained to her that he planned to talk about her in his speech. And he did.
“When something like this happens, a young girl shouldn’t have to go to Washington to be heard. I thought her President should come to Flint to meet with her.”
Their adorable photo op was so fun to watch, but the reason Obama came by Flint is one none of us should soon forget. This was a city forsaken. Left to drink literal poison, and until irrefutable evidence was brought to light, would’ve kept drinking it. It’s crucial that the spotlight remain on them so no one forgets. It’s a disgrace that should never happen again. Anywhere.
The after effects of the Flint water crisis will be felt for years to come and the public health fallout is as yet unknown. Lead poisoning is irreversible and has side effects including a lowered IQ and linked to an increase in criminal behavior. Now more than ever, this city needs top government officials paying attention so they can have everything they need to rebuild. Hopefully, Obama will continue to make this city one of his causes after he leaves office. It’s hard to think of one more worthy.