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Waters, Maxine Moore

Waters, Maxine Moore

August 15, 1938

Maxine Moore, the daughter of Remus Carr and Velma Moore, was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, and eventually became a congresswoman. She attended the public schools in Saint Louis and married Edward Waters immediately upon graduation from high school. In 1961 she moved with her husband and two children to the Watts section of Los Angeles. After working at a garment factory and as an operator for Pacific Telephone, Waters was hired in 1966 as an assistant teacher in a local Head Start program and was later promoted to supervisor.

In 1971 Waters received her bachelor's degree in sociology from California State University at Los Angeles. She became active in local and state politics, serving as a chief advisor for David S. Cunningham's successful race for a city council seat in 1973. After Cunningham's election, Waters became his chief deputy.

In 1976 Waters was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served for fourteen years. She represented the Watts area and was a noted spokesperson for women's issues. In 1978 she cofounded the Black Women's Forum, a national organization designed to provide a platform for the discussion of issues of concern to black womenprograms for the poor and minorities, and divestiture of investments in South Africa. Among her many achievements, Waters helped establish the Child Abuse Prevention Training Program and sponsored legislation to protect tenants and small businesses, to impose stringent standards on vocational schools, and to limit police strip-and-search authority. Waters served as the assembly's first black female member of the Rules Committee and the first Judiciary Committee member who was not a lawyer.

In 1990 Waters was elected to represent a wide area of South Central Los Angeles in the United States House of Representatives. In the ensuing years, she voiced her criticism of U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War and advocated a number of reintegration services for black troops on their return home.

Following the outbreak of riots in her Los Angeles district after the acquittal of the police officers charged in the Rodney King case in April 1992, Waters received national attention for her statements about the root social causes of the riots. In 1993 Waters proposed legislation for the Youth Fair Chance Program, an inner-city job training program, and supported passage of AIDS and abortion-rights legislation. Over the course of her first two terms, Waters rapidly emerged as a major spokesperson for the black community and one of the most prominent women in Congress. In 1998 she distinguished herself as a defender of President Bill Clinton, and she voted against impeachment as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

In the early 2000s, Waters worked with various hiphop artists to reclaim hip-hop from what she felt was coopting by and racism on the part of the white music industry. In 2004 Waters sponsored a resolution in Congress to provide assistance to the ravaged country of Haiti.

See also Politics in the United States


Mathews, Jay. "California Freshman Brings a Warm Touch to Her Firm Stance." Washington Post, February 19, 1991.

Newman, Maria. "Lawmaker from Riot Zone Insists on a New Role for Black Politicians." Washington Post, May 19, 1992.

louise p. maxwell (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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