“Flint Fights Back” Looks at State of Democracy, Environmental Justice After Water Crisis

Dr. Benjamin Pauli on how the crisis over democracy that was emergency management fueled the resistance to the Flint Water Crisis and forced officials to pay attention.

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

As part of the 2019 WDET Book Club, WDET is exploring the Flint Water Crisis through Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha’s book on the subject, “What The Eyes Don’t See.”

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with a political scientist and activist whose new book covers democracy, power, and accountability among officials. 

Dr. Benjamin J. Pauli is Assistant Professor of Social Science at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan and the author of “Flint Fights Back: Environmental Justice and Democracy in the Flint Water Crisis.” In his book, he focuses on how local officials had no authority and there was no representative democracy in Flint. He also looked at the popular responses to the crisis and wanted people to recognize the Flint Water Crisis for what it was. 

“Flint was a city with character. Flint was not the kind of city where people rolled over or gave up.” – Dr. Benjamin J. Pauli, author

Further reading: According to the MIT Press review of the book, “Dr. Pauli distinguishes the political narrative of the water crisis from the historical and technical narratives, showing that Flint activists’ emphasis on democracy helped them to overcome some of the limitations of standard environmental justice frameworks.”

Click on the player above to hear host Stephen Henderson interview Dr. Benjamin Pauli about Flint’s democratic struggle during the water crisis.



WDET Book Club

WDET’s 2019 Book Club is hosting a Summer Series featuring her Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha’s book, “What the Eyes Don’t See.” Dr. Attisha is a Flint pediatrician from Hurley Medical, who first brought public attention to the discovery of lead-tainted water, which led to the poisoning of Flint children.

As part of the Book Club, WDET’s Detroit Today is traveling across Southeast Michigan discussing water infrastructure, environmental toxins and the health of waterways. Stephen Henderson is also talking about these issues on the air. 

You can join us in that discussion. Read the book and engage with us online, on the radio and at events throughout the region. Here’s how:

Online: Join The WDET Book Club on Facebook where we will post articles and discussion topics throughout the summer. We’ll also invite guests to participate in targeted discussions you can engage in throughout the next couple of months.

On the radioListen to 101.9 WDET! We’ll have interviews and conversations about Flint then and now, and more conversations about water quality, and trust in government during Detroit Today. You can listen to them on the radio, on demand and on the Detroit Today Podcast.

Follow us on TwitterFollow hashtag Detroit Today where we will tweet our events, our guests and information about issues of safe water in our sinks, streams and lakes..

Events: We will travel to libraries around the region with guests who played a role in the book. They will tell their own stories about their involvement in the Flint water crisis, and we’ll invite local experts to talk about issues affecting our water in each community.  


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.
  • Alaina Fruge
    Alaina Fruge is the producer for the WDET Book Club. She's always taking care of business so catch her when you can because you never know which one of her jobs she'll be at.