I will never forget the time in 2018 when California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters said “If you shoot me, you better shoot straight,” after repeatedly receiving death threats from the Trump Klan—threats that continue in 2021. No matter the danger to herself, she continues to serve her district and the nation and will be celebrating her 83rd birthday on Sunday.
Happy birthday, Auntie Maxine!
A little background for those of you who aren’t familiar with her history: She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, as Maxine Carr on Aug. 15, 1938, where she was the fifth of 13 children reared by a single mom. She started working at age 13 in factory jobs and in restaurants. When she moved to Los Angeles, she worked in a garment factory and then got a job at a telephone company. She attended California State University at Los Angeles, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. She ran for state office in 1976 and was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served until 1990.
This year is also her 30th year in Congress. In 1991, after being elected to the House for the first time, she became one of the founders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus along with Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Thomas Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Bernie Sanders. She is also the person with the longest tenure in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), alongside nonvoting Washington, D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.