Vehicle City - 2015 - Present
Standing out front of the City of Flint Water Plant, Gail Morton came to a pause. The 64-year-old Flint resident had tears trickling down her cheek, halted by chilling winds.
Her gaze shifted to a dense crowd growing near the plant’s front gates. Descending from a church over a mile away were thousands of Flint residents and allies. The chants and signage differed, but all were present in protest of the city’s ongoing water crisis. A state of emergency had been declared just over a month before, thrusting the mid-size town into the national spotlight.
It was April 2014 when, at the push of a button, the Flint River — which hadn’t been treated for daily use in over 50 years — became the city of Flint, Michigan’s main water source. Government leaders cited a potential savings of around $5 million over the course of two years for a city staring into the face of financial emergency. However, at a human cost, came residents, both young and old who were unknowingly drinking water poisoned with a known neurotoxin - lead. It was almost two years before they were notified of it’s presence, not by government officials who sought to cover up the man-made disaster, but through the vigilant work of activists, mothers, doctors and scientists.
The scene pulled Ms. Morton into a state of dejavu. Her generation had already been here. Her parents generation had already been here, subject to segregation and violence. They had walked these streets in protest during the Civil Rights Movement. "As a small child growing up, you could almost see what our parents went through. We didn't have the rights. We didn't even have the rights to live in certain neighborhoods," Morton said. "I am so proud today, I mean, I am really proud."