Judge Greg Mathis heads to Flint, Michigan to try to fix the water crisis once and for all
"My public service commitment came from compassion for people who come from the same community similar community as I and that is the black and poor. That's really my constituency and that's who I'm interested in."
Judge Greg Mathis is one of the longest-serving arbitrators on television to date. The show celebrated its 20th anniversary this season and won the 2018 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Legal/Court Program. As Mathis continues to serve justice on our television screens, few know that he is also fighting just as hard for justice when he’s off the bench.
The Detroit native has a history of giving back to the Black community. Never forgetting his roots, which includes a troubled childhood, he has continued to provide services to better the lives of others and lead them on the right path. Mathis opened a community center in his hometown and has assisted thousands of young people with his non-profit agency, Young Adults Asserting Themselves (Y.A.A.T.), an agency that provides career, business start-up, and job opportunities, as well as job training and college enrollment assistance.
Today, the Judge heads back to the city of Flint where he’ll help end the water crisis that has befallen that city since 2014. According to CNN, “In order to reduce the water fund shortfall, the city announced that a new pipeline would be built to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. In 2015, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Virginia Tech detected dangerous levels of lead in the water at residents’ homes.
In April, Governor Rick Snyder announced the end of the free bottled water program in Flint, stating that the water quality has been successfully restored, but the citizens don’t trust it.
Judge Mathis along with several members of Flint’s clergy, community organizers, and concerned citizens are rallying to challenge the state government to rebuild the city’s corroded pipes and restore clean water once and for all.
During an interview with theGrio, Mathis opened up on why this issue is so personally important to him.
“ In 2016, we had marches, rallies and legal for,” said Mathis. “We all hosted it and we lobbied congress and senate to get two hundred million dollars. And so we slowed down knowing that the money was there.”
“However, in the last few months, the state stopped giving away free water even though the pipes haven’t been rebuilt and the people don’t trust that this lower land level is safe to drink. So, we’re taking a caravan of water with semi trucks and about 30 carloads in Detroit on November 1st to bring those folks water and we’re going to have a rally challenging the powers that be, the elected officials and the state officials to get things done. They’ve only completed half of the pipes although they’ve had two hundred million dollars since 2016.”
Government officials continue to put Flint’s water crisis on the back burner. When asked why they are taking so long to address the issue, Mathis expressed that there is a lot of finger pointing amongst the bureaucracy as no one wants to be held accountable for the poisoning of a community of mostly lower-income Black people
“You know when you’re the poor city and a majority Black city, then no one really cares,” expresses Mathis. “You’re backstage, if you will, to the main show that they have trying to get votes. The government bureaucracy is pointing the finger at each other: ‘you didn’t get your contracts in on time; you didn’t give us the money on time.’ So, nothing is getting done or less is getting done that should be.”
When it comes to what actions should be taken to make a change, it all comes back to one mainstay practice: voting.
“We’ve got to get back in the trenches and pressure these elected officials who determine where resources go. People died for us. and yes, all of that is true., but people vote for their own self-interest because it determines who gets what.”
Mathis also emphasizes the importance of having a seat at the table when it comes to politics.
“Politics is about who gets what in society,” Mathis continues. “If you’re not at the table fighting for your share, then it’s going to go to some privileged suburban community and you’re going to be left without anything because you don’t have any power and you don’t have any input on the public policy in your community and public policy starts with voting for people who will represent your interests.”
Check out more highlights from the interview!