After calling and reaching out to make an effort to confirm Auntie Maxine as my radio show guest for more than seven years, the day finally came! This Friday, tune in to hear my interview with Rep. Maxine Waters, who represents California’s 43rd District.
A few years ago, it was my pleasure to meet the congresswoman during the Congressional Black Caucus Breakfast — in fact, she took a photograph with me.
Let’s talk about her life just a bit for Women’s History Month. She has served 48 years in the world of politics since her start in 1973, including the 30 years that Waters has been congresswoman for her district after her election in 1991.
It has also been 30 years since the Los Angeles riots in the aftermath of the acquittal of four police officers for the beating of Black motorist Rodney King. Waters remembers it like it was just yesterday.
The California Democrat told HuffPost that she was traveling on business when King was brutally beaten by LAPD officers on March 3, 1991. She remembers watching the footage from her hotel bed.
“I sat straight up and all I could say was, ‘Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Look at this,’” Waters said. She and Black Americans across the country shared the same outrage.
The residents of Los Angeles reached their boiling point on April 29, 1992, however, when a mostly white jury acquitted the four white officers who assaulted King. That is when the city rebelled.
America continues to witness similar scenes as they play out in the streets, as seen in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and Charlotte, North Carolina, in recent years, with a similar narrative. The reality of Black Americans being denied justice when brutalized by the state continues.
Waters said the L.A. uprisings were a milestone in the history of Black people demanding justice.
“These were people who had been basically forgotten,” Waters told HuffPost. “And because of Rodney King’s beating and the current emotion that was stirring in that, it was like people were saying, ‘We’re here. You can’t do this to us. Look what you’re doing. Not only have you been with this consistent police abuse but the same people don’t have access to opportunities and jobs and health care and on and on.’ So it was a defining moment in this country and I think a defining moment in the way that Black people resisted.”
Though much of her area went up in smoke, in addition to sending disaster relief supplies like food and diapers, Waters pounded the pavement to bring peace to South Central. Thirty years later, she is a still force to be reckoned with.
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.