When 8-year-old Amariyanna "Mari" Copeny, a resident of Flint, Mich., wrote to President Obama in March, she just wanted him to hear her firsthand account of what her community was going through. Earlier this month, her request was granted: Obama visited Flint for the first time since the city's water contamination crisis began and met Copeny in person.
"When something like this happens, a young girl shouldn't have to go to Washington to be heard," Obama said after meeting her in Flint. "I thought her president should come to Flint to meet her." Yesterday, local artist Kevin "Scraps" Burdick unveiled a mural in Flint honoring this fearless young girl's meeting with the most powerful man in the United States.
Copeny has become well known in Flint for speaking out about how the children of Flint are suffering as a result of the water crisis–she's earned the nickname "Little Miss Flint" for her activism. Obama responding to her letter was a small victory for the young people of color in the city who have been exposed to disproportionately high amounts of led from Flint's water because they are more likely to live in neighborhoods with older pipes.
Michigan-based photographer Jake May took this photo of Copeny dancing in front of the mural yesterday:
Artist "Scraps" Burdick was commissioned to paint the mural at a former Union Printing building by an initiative called "Gallery on the Go," MLive.com reported, which has funding from the Greater Flint Arts Council to create artwork on abandoned buildings around the city.
"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," Copeny wrote in her letter to the president. "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 peoples' spirits."
Here's a reminder of that insanely adorable moment that's commemorated in Burdick's artwork: