While many celebrities of color planned to boycott The Academy Awards this weekend, it looks like Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay and a large group of Black Hollywood are lending their star power to Flint, Michigan for a special benefit which happens to take place on the same day.
Blackout for Human Rights, a group composed of celebrities against racial inequality and human rights violations, announced Tuesday (Feb. 23) #JUSTICEFORFLINT, a free concert devoted to supporting the people of Flint during the city’s disturbing water crisis. The event will be hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress with performances and appearances from Janelle Monae, Andra Day, Empire’sJussie Smollett, Robert Glasper, Vic Mensa, Jon Conner and many more.
In addition to the performances, residents of Flint will also share their stories on how the water crisis has affected them and their families.
“The primary goal and mission behind Blackout is to utilize the collective voice and influence of our members to raise awareness and bring an end to the state-sponsored human rights violations happening across the country,” Creed director Coogler said. “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. Through the livestream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”
Flint’s water crisis began in 2014 but became a national emergency this year after the city’s governor Rick Snyder announced children tested positive for high amounts of lead in their bloodstreams due to a change in water sources. The man-made disaster has affected African-Americans the most since they make up over 50 percent of the city’s population.
#JUSTICEFORFLINT will take place at the Whiting Auditorium (1241 E. Kearsley St.) on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET. Revolt TV is also taking part in the event, where it will be live streamed. Viewers will also be able to donate to programs supporting residents throughout the show.
A number of celebrities have since donated to the cause like Big Sean, Cher, Meek Mill and Puff Daddy. DuVernay spoke about the need to speak out on events that often go unnoticed in lower-income communities.
“As artists and activists with a public platform, we at Blackout strive to shed light on issues of justice and dignity related to disenfranchised, underrepresented and marginalized communities,” the Selma director said. “The poisoning that is happening in Flint is one of the most egregious human rights violations in American history. Blackout for Human Rights stands with all those affected by the water crisis, and is committed to supporting efforts on the ground to find sustainable, long-term solutions and, most importantly, achieve justice for the people of Flint.”
Supporters are also able to send in donations to Flint victims by texting “justice” to 83224, courtesy of Revolution Message.
The event is open to the public. Find out more about #JUSTICEFORFLINT, here.