Creed director Ryan Coogler and Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay will appear at a free benefit helping those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, scheduled to take place February 28th, hours before the Academy Awards, Buzzfeed reports.
Comedian Hannibal Buress will host the #JusticeForFlint event, which is being presented by Coogler’s activist collective, Blackout for Human Rights. Janelle Monáe is also set to appear, along with Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams and Empire‘s Jussie Smollett. Members of the Flint community, who have been subjected to water contaminated with lead and bacteria for two years, have also been invited to share their stories.
Though #JusticeForFlint is notably taking place the same day as the Oscars, Coogler said in a statement that the benefit was scheduled to coincide with the last weekend of Black History month, and not meant to be a response to the Academy’s ongoing issues with diversity. Coogler’s Creed was among several snubbed films that many deemed Oscar-worthy when this year’s nominees were announced, as was DuVernay’s Selma last year.
“With the #JusticeForFlint benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity, and emotional healing,” Coogler said.
Residents of Flint, a predominately black and impoverished city, have been subjected to contaminated water since April 2014 when the city began pulling water from the Flint River. The previous year, an unelected “emergency manager” had decided to cut ties with Detroit’s water authority and switch to a cheaper water district. But because a pipeline hadn’t yet been built, the manager decided to start drawing free water from the Flint River, which had long been tainted by farm runoff, sewage and decades of industrial waste.