FLINT (WJRT) (10/10/18) - Miss Michigan Emily Sioma used her eight seconds in the spotlight to make a difference for Flint.
During the national pageant in September, Sioma turned heads when she spoke out about the Flint water crisis on television. She doesn't regret speaking her mind.
"If I don't make (that statement), I'm never going to have another opportunity to like this to use my voice," Sioma said.
She knew the odds were against her advancing in the Miss America pageant.
"I really think I had the opportunity, not just to represent myself and the activist that I am, but represent an issue that is going on across the entire state," Sioma said.
Her introduction to the world may have been her only shot at shining a huge spotlight on the issue.
"Because we do hold 84 percent of the U.S. fresh surface water, why is it that there are so many communities that don't have access to clean, affordable drinking water?" said Sioma.
Monica Lewis-Patrick, president and CEO of the nonprofit We the People of Detroit, wants an answer to that question, as well.
Her mother, a military veteran, pointed out the Geneva Convention doesn't allow water deprivation to prisoners of war but Detroit was shutting off water to residents who weren't paying their bills.
"So in times of war, we cannot shut off water to our enemies, but we would shut it off here in our own homeland," Lewis-Patrick said.
Lewis-Patrick and Sioma both spent Wednesday in Flint to talk about the A Day Without Water campaign. They also brought with them, a semi truck filled with bottled water.
"I'm here today to stand in solidarity with the people of Flint," said Lewis-Patrick.
Pastor Ezra Tillman of the First Trinity Baptist Church said having people like Miss Michigan and organizations like "We the People" step up, has been a godsend.
"It gives us a boost to know that we don't have to say no to someone and turn them back into despair that we can't control," said Tillman.