Lead was poisoning the water in Flint, Mich. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha put her track record on the line to show it. -USA TODAY

11August 2020

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is among USA TODAY's Women of the Century. To honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we've put together a list of 100 women who've made a significant influence on our nation or our lives over the past 100 years. Read about them all at usatoday.com/WomenoftheCentury. Dr. MonaHanna-Attisha couldn't wait.

The pediatrician had discovered raised lead levels in the blood of children in Flint, Michigan. She had proof the city's water, piped in from the Flint River, was poisoned with lead. In September 2015, she sounded the alarm

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Tell me about your moms and dads, your childhood, your background. I wasn't supposed to be in this country. It wasn't part of my moms and dads'master plan. And I think like the majority of immigrants that's never ever part of anybody's strategy. We're Iraqi; my father was finishing his studies in the United Kingdom. My sibling who's simply a year older than me was born in Baghdad, and it was the intent that we would go back house. And it was throughout that time in the late 1970s that the regime of Saddam Hussein began to end up being more effective. My moms and dads saw and feared the rise of fascism in Iraq. They recognized that it most likely would not be a great idea to return home, specifically with 2 young kids.

Despite the fact that we as a family had the ability to concern the States, my parents never protected us from what was taking place back home. From the atrocities, sort of the rise in oppression and the dictatorship. And it felt that no matter where I was or wherever we were, that we had a role to play, to particularly expose injustices.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha poses as her daughter, Layla, takes her picture in the backyard of their home in Michigan.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha impersonates her child, Layla, takes her photo in the yard of their

home in Michigan. Hannah Gaber with Elliott Attisha/USA TODAY An auto accident sparked your interest in medication. Can you speak about that?(During a winter season vacation journey) I had to do with 5 years old; we hit a patch of black ice. The cars and truck swerved, it went back and forth and back and forth throughout the guardrails. This was before the time of safety belt. My sibling and I remained in the back seat and I was light as a plume. With every back and forth with the cars and truck, I was flung in each direction.

Then we landed into a ditch. I have no idea how assistance came, but assistance came, and I was in a health center with a damaged neck and a fractured jaw. So I'm fortunate to be here. And it was when I was hospitalized that I remember being looked after by an incredible doctor, a lady who likewise had kind of brown hair and brown eyes and darker skin like me, who was reassuring to me, my household, my mama had extremely restricted English, and who told me that I was going to be OK.

That truly type of stimulated my interest in medicine and service. And little did I know that 30 years later I would be the one with a white coat on, telling another community that they were likewise involved in a mishap that wasn't their fault. However it was going to be my task to make certain that they were going to end up OK.

How did you remain strong throughout Flint crisis? What kept you going? My kids, my Flint kids. When I'm not house, (my kids )will inform you that Mom's not home, she's with our 6,000 siblings. My Flint kids are no different than my kids. And that's what premises me to this day. It is their pledge, their capacity.

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The quote has been copied Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha My Flint kids are no different than my kids. Which's what premises me to this day. It is their promise, their capacity. Quote icon The story of Flint, it's not an

isolated story. There are kids who mature in conditions where their life trajectory is modified by their environment. Be it contamination with a contaminant or be it frustrating hardship, or be it lack of food or collapsing schools or the continuous impacts of bigotry and partition or risky real estate. The list continues for too many of our kids that limit their pledge. So much of my work in Flint is really asking kids to rise up and to succeed in spite of all of these overwhelming concerns on their shoulders. We're thinking of it the incorrect way. We praise and we commemorate those kids who in spite of frustrating obstacles were able to be successful and go to college and make something of themselves. And we should not be commemorating these exceptions, we should be producing those environments, the systems, where all children can prosper.

Nicole Carroll is editor-in-chief of USA TODAY. This interview has actually been edited for length and clearness.

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