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Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler to Headline Flint Benefit on Oscars Night

Hannibal Buress, “Creed” director Ryan Coogler, singer Janelle Monae, Jesse Williams and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay are appearing at a free Oscar-night event in Flint, Mich., to promote human rights concerns.

Buress is hosting the #JUSTICEFORFLINT event, which was unveiled in a Twitter posting.

The event is open to the public and presented by Blackout for Human Rights, founded by Coogler to address human rights violations in the U.S. It comes with residents of Flint dealing with lead contamination in their tap water.

The event will start at 5:30 p.m. ET — two and half hours before the Academy Awards launches — at Whiting Auditorium with the goal of raising  awareness and funds for those affected by the water crisis. It will also be live-streamed via revolt.tv.

The news was first reported by BuzzFeed, which issued a statement by Coogler:

“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. Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”

No black actors were included when the Academy Award nominations were announced on Jan. 14, prompting widespread concerns about the exclusions and a move by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to increase the number of minorities in its membership.

Coogler did not receive a nomination for directing “Creed” and DuVernay did not receive a nomination last year for directing “Selma.” Both films received strong critical support.

Coogler told BuzzFeed that Feb. 28 was chosen for the event because it fell on the final weekend of Black History Month rather than because of it being on the same day as the Oscars.

Flint’s water problem date back to April, 2014 when the city stopped purchasing Lake Huron water from Detroit and instead began using less expensive water from the Flint River.

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