Mari Copeny aka “Little Miss Flint”
As an eight-year-old living in Flint, Michigan, Mari Copeny saw firsthand the impacts Flint’s water crisis had on her community. She joined marches, protests and even hopped on a bus to participate in a Washington, D.C. rally demanding elected officials take action on the issue.
Known locally as “Little Miss Flint,” Copeny was determined to make change. So, she took matters into her own hands and penned a letter to President Obama about the unfolding crisis.
“I am one of the children that is affected 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,” Mari wrote.
Prompted by her letter, President Obama visited the city and subsequently approved a relief package of $100 million for the people of Flint. Copeny’s ongoing activism continues to highlight issues like environmental and structural racism on a national level.
Copeny has even created her own water filter. She raised more than $400,000 to produce the filters (in partnership with Hydroviv) and share them with communities that are saddled with hazardous drinking water. Prior to that development, Copeny donated more than 1 million water bottles and raised over $500,000 to benefit children in her Flint community. She regularly hosts annual events to gather school supplies for Flint kids as well.
“Our greatest threat right now is leaders not taking action in environmental racism and the American water crisis,” she said. “Sustainability is the ability to be able to maintain our environment for future generations. One thing we can stop doing right now is to stop ignoring the youth and ignoring the fact that the choices that they make today are going to affect my generation’s future.”
According to Copeny’s website, she plans to tackle these issues and more as part of her life’s work, emphasized with a presidential run in 2044. Copeny’s ambition and work on the front lines has already created a massive amount of change with her unwavering commitment and dedication to community.