*and some footnotes
Hillary Clinton went to Flint, Michigan, 1 to talk directly with residents 2 about how the water crisis, 3 an issue close to her heart, 4 has affected their lives. Along with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver 5 and members of Hillary’s staff, 6 she attended a community meeting 7 to discuss what steps need to be taken to help the children and families of Flint, now and in the future,8 and develop a plan to help the many other communities experiencing similar problems 9.
1. Hillary Clinton went to Flint…
I feel blessed to be here. But I’m wishing it were for a different reason.Feburary 7, 2016
Located 66 miles northwest of Detroit, Flint, Michigan was once the primary manufacturing center for GM’s Chevrolet and Buick lines. When the auto industry was hit during the recession, GM eliminated jobs in Flint, leaving many people without a way to provide for their families. The city has a long history of financial troubles—in 2011, a financial state of emergency was declared for Flint, which gave the state more power to control the city’s finances.
Hillary went to Flint to hear directly from a community whose concerns have too often been overlooked and ignored.
Read about Hillary Clinton’s plans to achieve racial justice.
2. … to talk directly with residents …
If the same thing that’s happening in Flint had happened in Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills, I think we all know that we would’ve had a solution yesterday.February 7, 2016
The majority of Flint residents are African American, and more than 40 percent live below the poverty line. An estimated 1,000 undocumented immigrants live in the city as well.
When the children of majority-black Flint, Michigan, have been drinking and bathing in lead poisoned water for more than a year, making sure all Americans have clean air and water isn’t just a health issue. It’s a civil rights issue. We would be outraged if this happened to white kids, and we should be outraged that it’s happening right now to black kids.January 18, 2016
3. … about how the water crisis …
I am here because for almost two years, Flint’s water was poisoned. I’m here because, for nearly two years, mothers and fathers were voicing concerns about the water’s color, the smell, the rashes it gave to those bathing in it. For nearly two years, you were told—Flint was told—the water was safe.February 7, 2016
In March of 2014, in the midst of a budget crisis, officials switched the city’s water source to the Flint River—a waterway infamous for its filth—in order save money.
Water coming in from the river eroded the city’s lead pipes—and that lead seeped into the tap water. Residents noticed the dirty water right away, but their concerns went largely ignored.
For nearly two years, high levels of lead have plagued the drinking water in Flint, and now many of the city’s children have much higher than normal lead levels in their blood.
The crisis will affect Flint residents for decades to come. No amount of exposure to lead is safe—and in children, lead poisoning can cause irreparable damage to brain development, and lead to learning and behavioral problems.
4. … an issue close to her heart …
When I first heard about what was happening here, I was so angry. I was outraged. And I know you must feel exactly the same.February 7, 2016
As soon as Hillary first heard what was happening in Flint, she dispatched senior members of her campaign staff to find out what could be done to help.
She’s been bringing attention to the issue ever since.
Hillary on January 14:
Hillary on January 18:
Hillary on February 7:
We don’t yet know how many children have been affected by lead poisoning. We don’t yet know how many challenges they may face in the years ahead. But … we know that even a single child suffering lead poisoning due to the state’s neglect is one child too many. And we also know we need action now.
This is not a new fight for Hillary—she’s spent her career fighting for children and families. As senator from New York, she took on the problem of lead poisoning in children, and fought to bring more support for lead paint and soil remediation in New York and across the country.
5. … has affected their lives. Along with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver…
I thank the elected officials that are here. The pastor asked them to stand, and I appreciate the work they do greatly—at the city, the county, and the federal level.February 7, 2016
Hillary was invited to Flint by city’s mayor, Karen Weaver, who was elected in November, 2015—two years after the water crisis began. She campaigned on a platform of fixing the crisis once and for all, and got to work the minute she was elected.
Mayor Weaver has said that Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who is actively working to fix things in Flint.
We need someone there fighting for the city of Flint, making sure we're getting what we need. Hillary has shown us that’s what kind of person she is—and what kind of president she’ll be. She gets results. And that’s what we need.Karen Weaver, January 21, 2016
6. … and members of Hillary’s staff …
We need to keep the spotlight bright.February 7, 2016
Multiple members of Hillary Clinton’s team were on the ground with her, including Maya Harris, senior policy advisor; Karen Finney, senior spokesperson; LaDavia Drane, African American outreach director; and Amanda Renteria, national political director.
Amanda was one of the first staff members Hillary sent to investigate the water crisis in Flint. She worked with the mayor’s team on the ground, figuring out what needed to be done to help the children of Flint.
“Hillary was immediately concerned,” Amanda says, “especially for the children in the area. You know, she’s a mother and a grandmother, and when she heard children were being poisoned she immediately wanted us to get up there and find out if those children are being cared for, if people in the city had access to safe drinking water, and what the long-term plan is for this city.”
7. … she attended a community meeting …
This is not merely unacceptable or wrong, though it is both. What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as the children in any other part of America. They are just as deserving of good health care, of good education, and of bright futures.February 7, 2016
Hillary met with the mayor and other elected officials to debrief on the situation and discuss what steps must be taken to help Flint now—and to help the children affected for many years to come. She also addressed Flint residents at a community meeting, and met with mothers whose children are suffering from health problems after drinking tap water in Flint.
8. … to discuss what steps need to be taken to help the children and families of Flint, now and in the future …
I want you to understand that this is, for me, a personal commitment. I will stand with you every step of the way. I will not for one minute forget about you or forget about your children. I will do everything I can to help you get back up, to get your strength and resilience flowing through this community again. Because what happened here should never have happened anywhere.February 7, 2016
Hillary is committed to doing everything she can to solve the immediate crisis in Flint, and she’ll keep fighting against environmental racism as president.
... as president, I will make environmental justice a central part of my comprehensive commitment to low-income communities of color … Because clean air and clean water are basic human rights—and our rights shouldn’t change between ZIP codes.
Communities and kids across our country have been bearing the burden of environmental racism for too long. It’s harming their health, their education, every aspects of their lives and futures. We can no longer accept the status quo—and as president, I never will.January 30, 2016
And that doesn’t stop in Flint.
9. … and develop a plan to help the many other communities experiencing similar problems.
This is not the only place where children are being harmed by what they breathe and what they drink.February 7, 2016
“Flint isn’t alone,” Hillary has said. “There are a lot more Flints out there—overwhelmingly low-income communities of color where pollution, toxic chemicals, and staggering neglect adds to families’ burdens.”
There’s still work to do in Flint and across our country. But Hillary is never going to give up on the families who have been harmed, dismissed, and belittled by those they should have been able to count on for help. And neither can we.
Speaking at the community meeting this morning, Hillary had a message for those working to address the crisis in Flint—and everyone fighting for justice, everywhere.
To read Hillary’s full remarks at the community meeting in Flint, click here.