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Maxine Waters visits Vashon

Outspoken but poised U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters chatted in “Auntie” mode Monday with girls at Vashon High School about everything from Facebook etiquette, her dislike of the president, and her recent history-making appointment.

Waters, a Vashon alumnae (1956) and hall of famer, was elated to talk to girls at her alma mater as part of the Sister Circle Team Leadership Forum. The forum introduces teenagers to female leaders to help them aspire to greatness.

And “Auntie Maxine” did just that:

“You can be anything you want to be, don’t let anyone stop you.  Not that guy you love so much, and don’t love anybody more than you love yourself,” Waters told the engaged girls. 

Waters told the students that she first became interested in politics while attending Vashon High School, encouraging them with her success.

“If I can do it, you can do it,” she said, telling them that she wants them to have a good quality of life.

“I don’t care what your experiences are now. I don’t care whether or not you think you’re in a good situation or you may not be happy or think you’re parents aren’t doing what they should do, or you’re worried about where you live and worried about the neighborhood.”

Waters continued, explaining, “That’s life and sometimes it gets a little bit tough, but if you understand that you have a right to a good quality of life, and to be able to pursue your education, and have a great career and have good things that life will offer — if you believe that, it will happen.”

She then told them of a Washington University professor she said had predicted kids in the neighborhood wouldn’t  amount to much.  Why?  Because they were very poor, came from single-parent homes and were often on welfare.  It was a neighborhood close to Vashon.

“But many of us have proven that he did not know what he was talking about,” she said.  “Those people who sometimes predict our failures have to be made liars out of, because we don’t have to fall victim to their predictions.”

The congresswoman also told the girls to go beyond high school, stop telling all of their business on Facebook, and to always respect their elders, no matter how they feel about them.

“I don’t care what you think, what you feel, how much you dislike a teacher or parent, keep it to yourself,” she admonished.  “There will come a time when you will have expectations of your children and young people in your neighborhood and you will want that kind of respect and response.”

Also, while giving the students life lessons, she noted her rocky relationship with President Donald Trump.

“You know your ‘Auntie Maxine’ does not like the President of the United States of America,” she said explaining that isn’t about his personality but his philosophy, direction and conduct.

“It’s about the fact that he is dividing this country. It’s about the fact that he’s instilling more racism and separatism in those who already had those leanings, but were perhaps being quiet about it, and they’re now on the rise,” she said.  

Those leanings, she said, “tend to interfere with our ability to be treated with equal justice in this country. And so, I’m opposed to the president for all of those reasons and many more.”

During a subsequent question and answer session, Faith Pruitt, an 11th grade Vashon student asked the congresswoman how she would feel about President Donald Trump winning a second term.

“I want him impeached,” Waters said pointedly. “I’m on it and I’m not going to stop.”

Announcing her recent appointment as the first woman and African American to chair the U.S. Financial Services Committee, she said the committee will look at Trump’s financial dealings.

“We are subpoenaing and we are going after his financial dealings despite the fact that he doesn’t want us to, because this part of the law allows you to subpoena,” she said.

“He’s been fighting it an awful lot, but we’re going to fight and get to the bottom of it.”  

Bill Beene Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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