At age 8, Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny found herself in the national spotlight after writing a letter to President Barack Obama inviting him to visit Flint, Mich. She wanted him to see, first-hand, the fallout from the water crisis. More than 100,000 residents of the predominantly Black city were exposed to toxic lead-tainted drinking water, including nearly 30,000 children—some exhibiting signs that the contaminated water harmed their developing brains and nervous system.
Since her 2016 letter, Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” has emerged as an important voice in the struggle against environmental racism. She told Vox that the climate movement “need[s] to address issues of environmental racism because it is a huge part of the climate movement yet it is treated by most as a nonissue.” She was a youth ambassador for the National Climate March and is a philanthropist, raising money and distributing more than one million bottles of water to help her city.
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