By Charlene Muhammad, California Black Media
The NAACP California/Hawaii Conference inducted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) into its Legacy Hall of Fame.
The award recognizes the congresswoman’s community leadership and tireless advancement of civil rights, according to state leaders of the country’s oldest civil rights organization.
Waters received the honor at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in South Los Angeles on June 25.
In Congress, Waters has made history.
She is the first woman and first African American chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, said Roderick Wright, former California state senator, as he introduced Waters. Wright represented the 25th and 35th districts in the Los Angeles County area.
Waters also serves as a member of the Steering Committee and is co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s a member of the Progressive Caucus, and member and past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Wright pointed out, before California/Hawaii NAACP President Rick Callender, escorted Waters to the stage.
“Our democracy is at stake,” said Waters, who highlighted problems like inflation, threats to the U.S. Constitution, and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack.
She also thanked all involved in presenting her the award and participating in the program.
An outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, Waters’ adversarial relationship with the former president was widely reported in the media.
“Lock him up,” she chimed, blasting the former POTUS. “We have people talking about: Come up with something so he can’t run for president. Well, that’s not strong enough,” said Waters. “What’s strong enough is to say he should be held accountable.”
At points in Waters’ speech, the audience affirmed her remarks with nods, ‘yesses,’ ‘hmm mms’ and applause.
Waters highlighted her history of fighting for people often considered “the least of these,” making a biblical reference — such as people living in public housing, she said.
She lifted up her 97-year-old friend and author of “To Protect and Serve: The Volunteer World of Ozie Bell Gonzaque,” who has lived in Watts for most of her life. Citing Gonzaque’s life example, she encouraged others to fight for things they believe in.
“She’s been doing it and still doing it,” said Waters.
The congresswoman then turned her remarks to politics and policymaking, as she outlined programs and legislation she is working on in Wash., D.C., to make life better for her constituents in Los Angeles and people around the country.
One of those is the Build Back Better Act, she said.
It is a continuation of the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, she said, appealing to the audience to make calls and use their social media platforms to push the legislation through.
That will help get families a decent quality of life, the homeless off the street, and repair of broken-down housing projects, Waters told guests.
Part of the effort with Build Back Better is to put more money into affordable housing, she explained. “Are you with me? … Can we do this?” she asked listeners.
“Yes!” the audience rang out.
Rep. Waters concluded her thank you message by noting she and her colleagues accomplish so much because of the support and backing of the NAACP.
“Walking the halls of Congress, the NAACP is with us, writing, answering what is going on with the right-wing conservatives on the radio, in the newspapers. We could not begin to deal with all of the difficulties that we deal with, without the civil rights movement standing behind us, and there is none more effective than the NAACP,” she said.
The event featured a welcome reception for sponsors, dinner, and NAACP’s ACT-SO Performances.
“It was a wonderful event. I enjoyed Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She is such a ball of fire. She is on fire! I was inspired. I am just ready to take the streets, take off running and do all that needs to be done,” said Wendy Reed, community liaison for the Carson/Torrance branch of the NAACP.
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