U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks for ECSU Founder's Day Scholarship Gala

Kesha Williams
January 06, 2009

On March 7, 2009 Elizabeth City State University will hold its Founder's Day Scholarship Gala at 7 p.m. in the K. E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center with U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) as the keynote speaker. Tickets are $100 per person for this black tie affair. In November of 2006, Waters was elected to her ninth term in the U. S. House of Representatives with an overwhelming 80 percent of the votes in the 35th District of California. She represents a large part of South Central Los Angeles, the communities of Westchester and Playa Del Rey as well as the diverse cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale. Waters is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and the Chairwoman of its Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. She also serves on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, Technology. Waters also serves on the Committee on the Judiciary and its Subcommittees on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, and on Immigration, Border Security and Claims. Prior to her election to the House of Representatives in 1990, Waters had 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, Waters has been highly visible in Democratic Party politics and has served on the Democratic National Committee 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. Waters is the founding member and chair of the 'Out of Iraq' Congressional Caucus (2005) which was established to bring to Congress an on-going debate about the war in Iraq and the Administration's justifications for the decision to go to war. The organization also seeks to return US military members to their families as soon as possible. The Caucus has more than 70 members. Expanding access to health care services is another of Rep. Waters' priorities. She spearheaded the development of the Minority AIDS Initiative in 1998 to address the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS among African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. Under her continuing leadership, funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative has increased from the initial appropriation of $156 million in fiscal year 1999 to approximately $400 million per year today. She is also the author of legislation to expand health services for patients with diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. She is lauded by African American entrepreneurs for her work to expand contracting and procurement opportunities and to strengthen businesses. Long active in the women's movement, Waters has given encouragement and financial support to women seeking public office. Many young people, including those in the hip-hop music community, praise her for her support and understanding of young people and their efforts at self-expression. One testament to her work is the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center, a multimillion dollar campus providing education and employment opportunities to residents of the Watts area. Waters was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the fifth of 13 children reared by a single mother. She began working at age 13 in factories and segregated restaurants. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked in garment factories and at the telephone company. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University at Los Angeles. She began her career in public service as a teacher and a volunteer coordinator in the Head Start program. She is married to Sidney Williams, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. She is the mother of an adult son and daughter, Edward and Karen, a grandmother of two grandchildren. The biography appears courtesy of Rep. Water's web site: http://www.house.gov/waters/bio/)