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Flint's toxic water crisis was 50 years in the making

Flint's toxic water crisis was 50 years in the making

In the fall of 1966, African American activists from the impoverished North End of Flint, Michigan, turned out en masse for a series of hearings on racial inequality sponsored by the state's Civil Rights Commission. One of those who testified, Ailene Butler, drew links between the segregationist policies that had created the North End and the corporate practices that had immiserated its inhabitants.

Butler owned a funeral parlor not far from a massive complex of smoke-belching Buick factories operated by General Motors. A throat cancer survivor, she spoke at length about the dreadful conditions that existed in her neighborhood: “There is a heavy smog caused by the Buick...

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