The film recounted the massive pullout of General Motors, which was founded in Flint.
At the height of production, GM employed 82,000 people in Flint. Today, the number of fulltime GM jobs is likely under 10,000.
‘Roger and Me’ captured the despair and devastation left by GM’s departure.
And now, we have poisoning of the city by its own state government, which year’s earlier essentially hijacked the people of Flint’s voting rights, by kicking out the elected city administration, and appointing a state ‘Emergency Manager’. The state of Michigan has, for all practical purposes, committed a terrorist attack on its own people. If this happened anywhere else it would be considered a form of genocide.
What else can you call overtaking the power of the city, and then poisoning its people?
But let me tell you something else about the city of Flint. It will survive this tragedy. I know, having lived there and/or worked there for more than 20 years. It is a proud, hard-working, resilient, community.
When things get tough, somehow, someway, Flint has always found a way to get tougher. Now, this will be its toughest challenge yet, because water is essential to life. Yet, Flint will find a way.
Let me tell you one more thing about Flint, it is also one of America’s great sports town.
Not many cities with a population of 100,000 or so, has produced the number of world class athletes as Flint.
It produced a Heisman Trophy winner and a Super Bowl champion from the same household. Mark Ingram Jr., currently a running back for the New Orleans Saints, won the Heisman and a National title at the University of Alabama in 2009. His father, Mark Sr. , caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl IIV for the New York Giants, and played in the NFL for 10-years.
It is home to Pam McGee, an NCAA basketball champion, hall of famer, Olympic Gold Medal winner, and the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA. When her son, JaVale McGee, was taken with the No.18 pick of the 2008 NBA draft, he didn’t even have bragging rights in his own house.
You remember the 2000 NCAA champion Michigan State Spartans? They were led by the ‘Flintstones’, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell and Mo Peterson. The team that made it to the Final Four the previous year included another Flintstone, Antonio Smith.
Andre Rison, the NFL All-Pro receiver? Flint. Glen Rice, the NBA All-Star? Flint. Jim Abott, the one armed MLBer who pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees? Flint. Minnesota Vikings’ Paul Krause, the NFL Hall of Famer? Flint. Chris Byrd, the former boxing champion? Flint.
Tim Thomas, the Most Valuable Player in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs? Flint. Claressa Shields, the Olympic Gold medal winner in women’s boxing? Flint. Carl Banks, the former Pro Bowl linebacker, and Super Bowl champ for the New York Giants? Flint. Running back Thomas Rawls, who broke onto the scene for the Seattle Seahawks last fall when Marshawn Lynch was injured? Flint. Monte Morris, the brilliant young point guard at Iowa State? Flint.
I could go on and on and on. The line that connects all of these great athletes is a fierce determination to compete, never back down to an opponent.
Perhaps it is Abbott represents the spirit of Flint as well as anyone. He did not let a physical handicap become a handicap. Not only was he a great pitcher growing up, he was an outstanding quarterback at Flint’s Central High School.
He made no excuses, and he gave none. That is indeed the Flint way.
There is this thing about being from Flint. The determination to win, and some cases survive from day to day, seems to be an intangible that everyone has. Ironically, some people use to say it must be in the water. But, no, it was always more than that. It was an example set by generation after generation of families.
Some call it being Flint-Tough. Others call it being Flint-Strong. Flint will persevere.