ACTIVIST, LEADER, YOUTH AMBASSADOR
Mari Copeny, known as Little Miss Flint on social media, is an African-American environmental activist and youth leader from Flint, Michigan. Mari is known for her continued efforts in shedding light on the corruption and abuse that has led to the crisis in her hometown.
Born on July 6, 2007 to mother Lulu Brezzell, Mari will be 10 years old this year and her young age has not prevented her from making a significant impact on the dialogue around environmental racism. In May of 2016, at the age of 8 years old, Mari wrote a letter to President Barack Obama challenging him to visit Flint, Michigan to see the crisis first hand. The letter was published in the Los Angeles Times and confronted the entire country with the reality faced by victims of state negligence. Her activism has led her to meet President Obama and President Trump.
In 2017, Mari continued her dedication to justice by becoming a Youth Ambassador to Women's March on Washington Youth, National Climate March, and Equality for HER’s Youth Leadership Initiative. Her youthful honesty prevents political leaders from being able to ignore the consequences of neglectful leadership. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Mari stated: “There’s lead damage in the water because of the pipes,” and “The water gives us bad rashes.” In the interview she reveals that the water coming from the faucets within her home smell of, “fish and feet and corn chips and bleach.” She gives voice to the unheard hardships of Americans trapped by a collapsing and toxic infrastructure. She has taken her voice all the way to the front door of the White House to hold President 45 accountable for breaking his promise to Flint.
Mari Copeny has been featured in Teen Vogue, The Guardian, VICE, TIME, Refinery 29, The Washington Post, NBC News, Rewire, Buzzfeed, and more for her vocal opposition to the injustices of environmental racism. Mari’s mentors include Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland (the Women’s March co-chairs), Blair Imani, Bernice King, John Lewis, and Former President Obama. Mari is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At the time of this piece’s publishing, Flint, Michigan has been without clean water for 1,102 activists like Mari Copeny will continue to bring awareness about this injustice until all of America’s children have clean, drinkable water.