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How the Justice for Flint concert helped Michigan residents

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Conor Ralph/The Flint Journal-MLive.com/AP

(Read caption) Stevie Wonder performs at the #JusticeForFlint event in Flint, Mich.

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There was another place to find a lot of celebrities on Oscars night, but it wasn’t in Los Angeles.

On Feb. 28, the same night as the Academy Awards ceremony, organizations including Blackout for Human Rights (of which “Creed” director Ryan Coogler, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, and “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Jesse Williams are members) held a benefit concert for those in Flint, Mich. 

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Blackout for Human Rights, Michigan Faith in Action, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign organized the event to benefit Flint, where cost-cutting measures resulted in a lead-contaminated municipal water supply.

People including musician Stevie Wonder, singer Janelle Monae, Coogler, and Jussie Smollett of the Fox TV show “Empire” took the stage. Performances included song, dance, and poetry. Hannibal Buress of “Broad City” hosted and the program was streamed on RevoltTV, a cable network that is owned by producer Sean Combs, also known as Puff Daddy.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, a doctor who drew attention to the lead in the Flint water, spoke during the event as well.

“You are giving us music, you are giving us laughter, you are giving us hope, you are giving us love,” Dr. Hanna-Attisha said. “I can't imagine spending Oscar night anywhere else but here.” 

Ms. DuVernay said the night wasn’t selected because it was also the time when the Oscars ceremony was being held. 

“[That industry] happens to be my and Ryan [Coogler]'s world, but when it came up that this was a possible date that worked for everyone else, it felt wrong to say, 'Hey, guys, we can't do that date, there's something happening in L.A.,'” the director told the Hollywood Reporter. “There are other things going on in the world, and this is one of them.” 

The fundraising goal for the evening was $100,000, and the event ended up raising $145,000. Around 3,000 people are estimated to have donated.