Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” was honored with the Change Maker Award at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday (May 15).
Singer Teyana Taylor presented the 14-year-old environmental justice advocate with the award followed by a short video tribute showcasing her extraordinary efforts and energy to better the Flint, MI community.
“America has a water crisis because of its long history of neglecting low-income communities but some people in charge would rather spend their time in power to detect what woman can and cannot do with their bodies, said Copeny in her speech as she accepts her award. “It’s dangerous and also very weird.”
“Unfortunately, women across the nation will know the pain and disappointment that marginalized communities face every day even more intimately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade,” she added.
Copeny is recognized as both the first female and youngest person to ever receive the Change Maker Award. She joins former recipients like Trae The Truth and Killer Mike.
“I don’t do the work I do for accolades and clout. I do it for kids back home in Flint who are still dealing with the effects of being poisoned by water eight years later, she said in her speech. “people who look like me always get the short end of the stick.”
Copeny rose to prominence when she was just 8-years-old, after a letter she wrote to then-President Barack Obama about the water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan made national news. The letter moved Obama to make a trip to the city to see the damage done in Flint, leading him to approve $100 million in relief for the city.
“Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic about the future,” Obama wrote back to Mari at the time.
On her website, Copeny describes herself as a “philanthropist, activist and future. Her work in Flint and within the Black community has led to successful crowdfunding campaigns that have raised more than $250,000 and distributed more than a million water bottles to Flint residents. In fact, to date, she has raised more than $600,000 for her Flint Kids projects, which include giving out mote than 17,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, hosting community movie screenings, and arranging annual holiday events to deliver thousands of toys.