Pop star Bruno Mars announced his generous donation of US$1 million dollars to aid the victims of Flint’s water crisis in an unexpected move during a concert Saturday night in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The artist delivered a sweet ending to his 24K Magic World Tour this weekend, surprising the crowd attending the sold out concert with his plans to donate to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
The Detroit Free Press reported Mars paused slightly during his performance of the hit song “Just the Way You Are” to dedicate the funds to “our brothers and sisters in Flint.”
The water crisis which began in 2014 after a decision to change the city’s water source caused high lead contamination to run through the veins of the city and affect the lives of the primarily Black and working class residents in the former factory town.
Families continue to face the physical, developmental and psychological effects of the lead poisoning, especially among the children of Flint.
Mars later made his announcement public through the media stating, “I'm very thankful to the Michigan audience for joining me in supporting this cause. Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it's important that we don't forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster. As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”
The pop artist is not the first to call attention to the ongoing water crisis, he is preceded by Michigan-native rap artists, Eminem and Big Sean, Flint-born filmmaker Michael Moore as well as Wiz Khalifa, Beyonce, Cher, and comedian Jimmy Fallon among a host of others.
Residents may have received support from celebrities, Detroit-native musicians and sports stars, but the response from their elected head of state was slow and inadequate in a time of desperate need.
The switch was made under an unelected emergency manager and slammed as a case of environmental racism. Authorities were slow to alert the public of the water safety issues, despite repeated complaints from residents.
Flint’s water was returned to the Detroit system in October 2015 after the corrosive water of the Flint River was allowed to flow into people’s homes for 18 months, causing serious lead contamination and damage to water pipes.
The decision resulted in a host of criminal charges against state health officials as well as an investigation into Michigan Senator Rick Snyder, responsible for the appointment of the emergency manager.
Snyder has maintained his innocence, despite investigations into the city's disastrous mismanagement in a time of crisis which has sent the city spiraling and whose effects will be felt for generations to come.