Mari Copeny acquired the changemaker award on the 2022 Billboard Music Awards on Could 15. The environmental-justice advocate is simply 14 years outdated. Copeny, who can also be known as Little Miss Flint as a result of her efforts started through the lead-pipe disaster in her hometown of Flint, MI, is simply the third particular person to obtain this award, the primary lady, and the youngest particular person.
Teyana Taylor launched Copeny, who accepted her award with laughter and a giant smile. She thanked her household and associates and most of all the youngsters in Flint who she stated encourage her to proceed to struggle.
Copeny additionally addressed the leaked SCOTUS opinion that will overturn Roe v. Wade. “Some folks in cost would relatively spend their time to dictate what ladies can and might’t do with their our bodies,” she stated. “It is harmful and in addition very bizarre.”
Copeny continued, “Elected officers and judges are in place to assist residents and repair wrongs. When authorities priorities are misguided, we should converse out. There isn’t a time to attend.”
“I advocate for the youngsters throughout America as a result of individuals who appear to be me all the time get the brief finish of the stick,” she defined. Copeny known as out the celebrities in attendance, saying, “The people on this room have the ability to succeed in the world and attain tens of millions. I problem you to take motion and do far more than simply applaud this speech.”
Billboard says the award “is given to popular culture figures who converse reality to energy by their dedication to particular person motion and management.” The primary award was given in 2020 amid the protests following the homicide of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Copeny first acquired nationwide consideration when, in 2016, at simply 8 years outdated, she wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama concerning the water disaster in Flint. The letter was a part of what sparked Obama to lastly go to the town, and he finally authorised $100 million in aid for the town.
Copeny wasn’t happy with that, nonetheless. She continues to agitate for motion round Flint’s water disaster. This April, she posted her annual reminder that Flint has been with out clear water since April 24, 2014. “One other 12 months with out clear water. Over half my life,” she wrote. In keeping with Nice Lakes Now, as of 2021, the town had changed simply over 100,000 pipes and the town considers itself within the last levels, however many Flint residents won’t ever belief the municipal water once more.
Copeny has widened her efforts to cowl not simply the water disaster in her hometown but in addition the implications of all authorities negligence, collapsing infrastructure, and environmental racism broadly.
In 2020, Copeny spoke to POPSUGAR about what retains her going years after she first received concerned in activism. She defined, “Figuring out that I’m not sitting round and ready for the federal government to repair it helps to maintain me going. Figuring out that I made a decision to not wait till I grew as much as face the issue head-on and providing an answer to these residing with poisonous water proper now. I do know that I’m altering lives all throughout our nation.”
She additionally emphasised the significance of adults listening to younger folks, saying, “It is time to give the youth a seat on the desk. It is time to take heed to us, be taught from us, and observe our lead. Please cease telling us we do not know what we’re speaking about as a result of we’re children. Most often we’re preventing for our lives and our future.”