Maxine Waters: Unapologetically For The People
Who really is Maxine Waters? To be honest, I didn’t really know until I started writing this article. Of course I know her nicknamed as “Auntie Maxie” and that she is in politics as an elected official, but who was she really? How did she come into office and what are her views?
Well, apparently it all started on Jan. 3, 1979. Eula Love was a black woman widow with three young daughters trying to make ends meet in South Central Los Angeles.
According to Mic.com, Love had fallen behind on her gas bill, and news reports say she owed the Southern California Gas Company at least $60. That day, the company sent a serviceman to Love’s home to either collect a minimum payment of $22.09 or turn the gas off altogether. When the serviceman got to Love’s home, she demanded that he leave. When he refused, she reportedly picked up a nearby shovel and swung twice, hitting the worker in the arm. The man then left.
The company then sent two workers to Love’s house, where they waited for police to arrive. Love met the workers there, and then went into the house. One historian reported that Love told her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila, that they refused to take her payment.
Two LAPD officers — Lloyd O’Callaghan, who was white, and Edward Hopson, who was black — soon arrived to assist the gas company workers. Police reportedly said the officers found Love standing outside her house holding a knife, seething, with “froth” coming from her mouth. The officers drew their guns and demanded that she drop the knife, but Love instead turned to walk back into her home. That’s when, the officers alleged, Love turned back toward them, raised the knife and threw it. Simultaneously, they opened fire, striking Love eight times. She died on the scene.
As word spread about the shooting, Love’s killing touched a nerve in South Los Angeles, including that of Maxine Waters.
For Waters, Love’s death resonated more personally than most. Both women were close in age (only a year apart) and began working in factories as teenagers to help support their families. Both women had made the wide boulevards and one-story stucco houses of South Los Angeles their home.
This killing couldn’t have come at a more volatile time for Waters. Waters was roughly two years into her first term in the California State Assembly, representing a South Los Angeles community where poverty rates were high, and stories of police abuse were constant.
Nearly 40 years later, Waters is still fighting. It’s at the sunset of her time in elected office that her star is shining brightest. She tells the world to “stay woke” and has been lovingly dubbed “Auntie Maxine” by her legions of diehard black female fans. But most importantly, she’s been one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest critics, relentlessly calling for his impeachment. She’s “out to get him,” and Trump opponents continue to hail the congresswoman as an icon of anti-Trump resistance.
In recent news headlines, I’ve seen her stand tall against President Trump and his allies by essentially trying to do what is right for the every day man and woman.
In looking at her track record, throughout her nearly 40 years of public service, Maxine Waters has been on the cutting edge, tackling difficult and often controversial issues and has been an advocate for international peace, justice, and human rights. She has combined her strong legislative and public policy acumen and high visibility in Democratic Party activities with an unusual ability to do grassroots organizing.
Waters was born 1938 in Kinloch, Missouri, the daughter of Velma Lee (née Moore) and Remus Carr. Fifth out of thirteen children, Waters was raised by her single mother once her father left the family when Maxine was two. She graduated from Vashon High School in St. Louis, and moved with her family to Los Angeles, California, in 1961. She worked in a garment factory and as a telephone operator before being hired as an assistant teacher with the Head Start program at Watts in 1966. She later enrolled at Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles) and graduated with a sociology degree in 1970.
In 1973, she went to work as chief deputy to City Councilman David S. Cunningham, Jr.. Waters entered the California State Assembly in 1976. While in the assembly she worked for the divestment of state pension funds from any businesses active in South Africa, a country then operating under the policy of apartheid, and helped pass legislation within the guidelines of the divestment campaign’s Sullivan Principles.
According to her website, the current issues Congresswoman Waters and her legislature focus on are:
– Consumer Protection
– Minority and Women Inclusion
– Foreign Affairs
– Criminal Justice
– Health Care
– Higher Education & Student Loans
– FCC and Communications Policy
– Economic Stimulus and Job Creation
Prior to her election to the House of Representatives in 1990, Congresswoman Waters had already attracted national attention for her no-nonsense, no-holds-barred style of politics. During 14 years in the California State Assembly, she rose to the powerful position of Democratic Caucus Chair. She was responsible for some of the boldest legislation California has ever seen: the largest divestment of state pension funds from South Africa; landmark affirmative action legislation; the nation’s first statewide Child Abuse Prevention Training Program; the prohibition of police strip searches for nonviolent misdemeanors; and the introduction of the nation’s first plant closure law.
As a national Democratic Party leader, Congresswoman Waters has long been highly visible in Democratic Party politics and has served on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) since 1980. She was a key leader in five presidential campaigns: Sen. Edward Kennedy (1980), Rev. Jesse Jackson (1984 & 1988), and President Bill Clinton (1992 & 1996). In 2001, she was instrumental in the DNC’s creation of the National Development and Voting Rights Institute and the appointment of Mayor Maynard Jackson as its chair.
Following the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992 after the Rodney King verdict, Congresswoman Waters faced the nation’s media and public to interpret the hopelessness and despair in cities across America. Over the years, she has brought many government officials and policy makers to her South Central L.A. district to appeal for more resources. They included President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Secretaries of Housing & Urban Development Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo, and Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve System. Following the unrest, she founded Community Build, the city’s grassroots rebuilding project.
She has used her skill to shape public policy and deliver the goods: $10 billion in Section 108 loan guarantees to…