Maxine Waters, a California congresswoman, is known around the halls of Vashon High School in St. Louis as “Auntie Maxine.”
She returned to her alma mater Monday to speak for an hour to a group of girls six decades younger than her about determination, defying the odds and standing up to threats.
The Democrat, who grew up in St. Louis, was back in her hometown for an annual Mothers’ Day banquet. She graduated from Vashon in 1956.
Waters said she became a member of Congress despite learning as a teenager that researchers predicted she would fail because of growing up poor and black.
“Those people sometimes who predict our failures have to be made liars out of, because we don’t have to fall victim to their predictions,” Waters told the students.
She acknowledged the girls may not be growing up in perfect situations, but she said they have a right to a good education and life.
“If you believe that, and you work toward it, it will happen,” she said.
Waters was first elected to Congress in 1991, representing a section of southern California along the coast south of Los Angeles. Today, she’s enjoying some late-career notoriety for taking tough positions in opposition of the Trump administration.
She recently became chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, where she’s pledged to subpoena the president’s financial records.
“They’re fighting that an awful lot, but we’re going to fight to get to the bottom of it,” she said.
She also supports impeaching President Donald Trump.
That popularity has led to threats against Waters’ life. A student asked about those threats, to which Waters said she’s glad one person who threatened her, as well as other Democrats, was recently sentenced to four years in prison.
“These people are dangerous, and they are crazy, and they have become more brazen and bold with this president because he sends a certain kind of message to them that it’s alright,” Waters said.
Another student asked Waters why black women should go into politics. Waters responded that it’s important for a younger generation to get involved.
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