clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Read the letter an 8-year-old Flint activist sent to persuade Obama to visit her city

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Eight-year-old Mari Copeny of Flint, Michigan, has become one of the faces of the water crisis: She's rallied at protests around the Democratic presidential debate, attended Congressional hearings in a "Flint Lives Matter" T-shirt, and now extracted a promise from President Obama to visit Flint.

Before her visit to the March 17 Congressional hearing on Flint, where Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testified, Mari wrote to Obama asking to meet with him:

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. I know this is probably an odd request but I would love for a chance to meet you or your wife. 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.

Obama didn't meet with Mari while she was in DC. But on April 25, he wrote back: "I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint," Obama wrote. "That's why I want you to be the first to know that I'm coming to Flint on May 4th."

The White House posted his letter on Medium:

Obama — who hasn't visited Flint since the lead crisis was first revealed in September 2015 — will be meeting with residents of Flint and getting a briefing on the city's contaminated water. Lead levels are still too high, even with filters, in some homes in the city. And residents' confidence in government has been understandably shaken.