Maxine Waters had served in the United States Congress for more than twenty-five years before she became a viral sensation for Generation Z.
In 2017, Waters utilized a House Financial Services Committee meeting not to be talked over, nor disrespected. When then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempted to wiggle out of Waters’ questioning, she routinely repeated, “Reclaiming my time,” to steer the conversation back to why those members of Congress were in the hearing in the first place.
The soundbite turned into a viral meme and was included in Jasmine Sullivan‘s 2021 single “Tragic.”
A life dedicated to serving her California constituents and being a vocal firebrand has made Waters an institution on Capitol Hill. It’s also why the longtime Congresswoman will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the fifth annual Urban One Honors airing on Monday (January 16).
Considered by many to be one of the most women in politics and among the most powerful Black women in the world, Waters rose from humble beginnings in St. Louis, Missouri, before moving to Los Angeles, California, like many who found themselves swept up in The Great Migration. Waters’ initial fight was for parents of the Head Start program in Watts, California.
“Head Start encouraged me to finish my education; taught me the importance and value of community organizing; made me acutely aware of the many issues facing our young children; and inspired me to get involved in politics to make a difference in the lives of others, particularly the least of these,” Waters told Congress while honoring Head Start founder Jule Sugarmann in 2010.
Congresswoman Waters has long maintained advocacy for the under-housed, the under-served and many other minority groups in California as in the world. In her eyes, a life in politics has been a calling for men and women to use their voices from the 1992 L.A. Uprising to divestment from apartheid in South Africa; Waters has long stood with the people — and isn’t afraid to continue to stand with them.
“I am one who believes in the power of the people,” Waters told Teen Vogue in 2017. “I am inspired when I see people hit the streets, who challenge their elected officials, and are willing to stand up and fight. I encourage it.”
Waters is among several individuals being honored at the fifth annual Urban One Honors. Read profiles on other noted honorees, including Pharrell, LL Cool J and more. Tune in at 8 p.m., 7 p.m. CST on TV One on Monday, January 16.