“I’m a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated.” – Maxine Waters
Maxine Waters, or “Auntie Maxine”, as social media has coined her, has been building a legacy for quite some time. The dynamic and opinionated Congresswoman has never hidden her opinion, nor has she failed to challenge any unethical situation. You may know her from her bold and unashamed refusal of the Trump administration. This bold refusal is what first sparked conversation about the identity of the educated black woman who refused to be silenced. Waters, who has been both praised and berated on social media, has been a trending topic, meme and cover story all in one week.
Maxine Waters’ boldness and challenges to authority have been extremely refreshing, but it’s nothing new.
Maxine Waters was born August 16, 1938 in Kinloch, Mississippi, and was the 5th born of thirteen children. She graduated from Vashon High School in St. Louis, Missouri, and moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1961. There she enrolled in Los Angeles State College (now California State College) where she graduated with her sociology degree in 1970.
Her well followed political career expands decades. A member of the Democratic party, Waters entered into politics in 1973, where she worked as a chief deputy. Next, she entered the race for California State Assembly in 1976. She won the position and held the seat from 1977 to 1991. There she lobbied got the divestment of state pension funds from any active businesses in South Africa, due to the country operating under the guise of racial segregation.
Upon successful completion of that project, Waters was elected to the U.S House of Representatives, where she has served since 1991. Her district has changed a couple times due to zone redistricting, but she continues to win her elections easily. Currently Waters is a member of the House of Representative for California’s 43rd district, last winning reelection in 2013.
Upon joining the House of Representatives Waters was immediately recognized as a strong voice of the community. So much so that she faced suspensions for some of her more ‘passionate’ outbursts. She is a member and the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She is also the veteran among the other twelve women that are members of Congress.
Waters storied career has also been one full of accolades. Her accolades include, but are not limited to, The Maxine Waters Preparation Center in Watts, California, being co-founder of Black Women’s Forum, and co-Founder of Community Build. She’s received the Bruce F. Vento Award from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty for her work on behalf of homeless persons. She was also included in the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, 1992.
Waters has often been under attack because of her constant championing for the Black community. Waters even risked her political career when she hand delivered relief supplies in Watts, after the 1992 Rodney King verdict. She was very active and instrumental in helping move the community forward during and after the L.A. Riots.
Unfortunately, being a Black woman in a position of power can often incite negative feedback as well as positive. Waters recently found herself on the receiving end of disparaging racial tropes per Bill O’Riley. O’Riley claimed that he didn’t bother listening to Maxine Waters words, simply because she has ‘James Brown hair’. Although an apology was issued by both O’Riley and Fox News, the message was extremely clear; if you are a Black Woman, nothing you say can contain any value.
Maxine Waters has also faced recent threats of impeachment because of her willingness to speak up and be heard. Waters has been called both a ‘race baiter’ and ‘out of touch’ by hecklers. It is disparaging racial sentiments like these that have helped make Waters understand the importance of movements like Black Lives Matter. According to Waters, “The Black Lives Matter movement was a response to recent killings of unarmed Black men by police. The young Black people, who have been instrumental in this movement and who coined the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” are poignant, inspiring, and simply brilliant. These young people have galvanized the Black community. Although Black Lives Matter may have been intended to focus on police abuse, profiling, and killing, it has awakened us and inspired us to think about all aspects of Black life and the possibilities of a new, invigorated fight for justice and equality.”
More recently, Maxine Waters is catching the eyes and ears of millennials because of her public criticism of Donald Trump. She was previously very critical of the Tea Party and she let that be known. Waters was also against the war in Iraq, so much so that she created the Out of Iraq Caucus in 2005.
Both Waters determination and fearlessness have been refreshing. She has successfully reignited a fire for politics in the Black community, as more and more individuals in the Black community have begun to participate in more political conversation. Maxine Waters has been a positive voice for the Black community, and will continue to shine a light on the disparaging conditions faced by the Black community that have long gone unacknowledged.
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