By Andre Jones
Grammy award-winning pop musician Bruno Mars, performed over the weekend in Michigan – and he left gifts.
“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,” Mars said in a statement.
Flint, a 56.6% Black city of a little over 98,000, was once home to the nation’s largest General Motors plant, but experienced a pronounced decline when the company downsized in the 1980's. According to the Census Bureau, a whopping 41.2 percent of residents live below the poverty line, while the median household income hovers around $25,000 annually. The rest of Michigan averages just about double this median income.
Flint has been plagued by water distribution issues for decades, but made fresh headlines when a Virginia Tech research team reported that 40 percent of homes had elevated levels of lead and that Flint’s water was 19 times more corrosive than Detroit water. The team recommended declaring a state of emergency, but Flint did not do so until December, after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) found dangerous lead levels in three Flint public schools.
Mars is the latest celebrity to put their money where their mouths are for Flint, Michigan. Jimmy Fallon and Meek Mill each donated $10,000, Cher donated almost 200,000 bottles of water, and rappers The Game and Detroit’s hometown favorite – Eminem - donated a combined total of $2 million worth of bottled water. The Queen of Soul, and jewel of Detroit herself, Aretha Franklin donated 50 free hotel rooms and food to those affected by the crisis. “Detroiters usually come to the aid of Detroiters — and Flint is certainly regarded as Detroit,” Franklin told NBC affiliate WDIV.
“As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again,” Mars continued in his statement