Maxine Waters. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

Maxine Waters began her political career in 1976 in the California Assembly. Today, she is one of 12 black women in Congress, having represented the State of California since 1991. She’s recently been in the news due to her criticism of the 45th president. She received even more coverage when TV host Bill O’Reilly mocked and dismissed her, saying, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.” Though he later offered a (non)apology, Ms Waters replied on Twitter, “I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Sadly, this is not an uncommon state of affairs for black women currently in politics. But Ms Waters has fought for her constituents since her days in the California Assembly, where she fought to separate state pensions from businesses that had ties to South Africa, which was under apartheid at the time. Choosing to run for Congress in 1990, she was elected with nearly 80% of the popular vote, and since then has been reelected with at least 70% of the popular vote in the 35th district. She has chaired the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as a Ranking Member on the Committee on Financial Services, and previously was the the Committee on the Judiciary.

Education and training have always been a central point of Ms Waters’ career. Before entering politics, she was an assistant teacher with Head Start. In 2005, she testified in front of the ¬†U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the problems of “for-profit” education. She has also fought for funding for a training center in LA. Besides her support of education, Ms Waters has fought to protect the privacy and safety of American citizens, opposing both the Iraq war and seeking to limit the surveillance and collection of data on U.S. citizens.

Not without her share of controversy, Maxine Waters has put herself and her beliefs on the line more than once. In 2009, she co-sponsored a bill that would make reparations to black Americans for slavery. After the Rodney King verdict and subsequent riots in 1992, she helped deliver supplies. She also said, “If you call it a riot it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason. I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable.” Throughout her career, controversy and all, Maxine Waters has stood against injustice, and continues to fight for what she believes in.

-Katie Weidmann
Social Media Manager
Girl Museum Inc.

Pin It on Pinterest