More than 100 people showed up to tell their stories, and attempt to be heard at the national level.
The overarching theme for the event, as Nancy Pelosi addressed a church full of Flint residents, was looking forward.
In her opening statements Pelosi acknowledged the trust between Flint residents and the Government is shaken. However, she made it clear that this event would be a step in the right direction.
“With great humility I ask you to allow us to love your children. You all have faith, we share that. We want you to have hope, we want you to know that you can depend on the love of all of these people here, and so many others, to take Flint into the future.”
The press was not allowed in the event once residents began to speak their mind. Instead, I waited in the lobby of the church, and was able to catch up with a few of the people as they left the event.
People like Vera Perry, trustee of the Flint Board of Education. She’s lived in Flint her entire life.
Perry brought a group of Flint High School students, all of whom are part of Flint’s Student Senate program, to get a hands on look at how politicians handle situations like the Water Crisis.
Perry said she hopes her students are able to learn from the mistakes politicians have made.
“This is the federal government sitting here now. They need to pay close attention to what is being said because the Michigan government has been giving us the runaround and I’m just hoping that the federal government is stepping up and not continue to mislead the people of Flint.”
Perry said the course of her students’ lives have drastically changed. Her hope is that her students will be able to better themselves through the adversity, not crumble under it.
“These children are living a whole different life now, this is a new normal. They are going to be the future, and they need to be involved in the political process.”
Another person who stopped to speak to me on her way out of Grace Emmanuel church was Bishop Bernadel Jefferson, with her two grandchildren in tow.
Jefferson said after the event she felt more positive about the future. She said she’s glad she’s not alone in the fight against the water crisis.
“I don’t like the ideal of fighting, but I am a mother, and I am a woman and if it takes fighting, I will fight. I will not quit, I will not give up, I will not run. I am a fighter, and because of those that will fight, and will not quit, we will win. A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins! So will win, ‘cus I’m not quitting, and I’m not going away!”
Jefferson left shortly after saying that to go pick up a shipment of baby formula and other infant essentials from an anonymous donor out of Ohio.
Support came from Pennsylvania as well. A Philadelphia based law firm that focuses on issues with drinking water showed up at the event to help Flint residents with their legal issues.
From all of the people I spoke to, it was clear the residents of Flint do not feel defeated by the crisis. If anything it felt as though everyone in the crowd was a part of a single family.
The same people who, not even an hour before the event started, seemed like complete strangers, were now filling the lobby sharing stories, laughing and trying to brighten each other’s mood.
If there’s one thing I took away from Grace Emmanual, it’s going to take a lot more than a water crisis to break Flint.