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Congresswoman challenges NAACP to continue to overcome racism          


Congresswoman Maxine Waters from Los Angeles challenged those attending the Spokane NAACP’s 97th Freedom Fund Banquet on Nov. 12 to speak up and protest, so decades and generations of efforts to overcome racism and discrimination are not lost. She calls the country to live up to its ideals of freedom, justice and equality for all.

Maxine Waters says NAACP has much work to do.

Maxine came to the banquet at the invitation of Alice Moore of Spokane.  She and Alice share a granddaughter.

“I’m proud of the NAACP.  It is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized civil rights organization that has worked to secure rights for black people,” Maxine said.  “It has organized resistance to racism and discrimination that has led to legislation in state and federal governments and legal battles in the Supreme Court.”

Opening her talk, she said she rewrote her speech because of the election results.

“Many are traumatized by what was the most contentious, polarizing campaign,” she said. “Many talk about healing and America coming together in the best interest of the country.  It sounds good.  It sounds sincere.  Meanwhile, young and old are protesting in cities around the country.”

In Los Angeles, her hometown, 8,000 were in the streets protesting threats to immigrants, racist slurs, homophobic hate, name-calling, insults to women, disregard for protocols, and disrespect for opposition. 

Maxine said people are fearful for the future, fear immigrant families will be broken up, fear the welcome on the Statue of Liberty will be undone and fear Russian President Vladmir Putin’s influence.

“The President-elect has railed about ‘draining the swamp of Washington D.C.,’ but his appointments show he is filling that swamp,” Maxine said.  “He said the right words about working together, but can we believe that?”

She would like an apology for the name-calling and bullying.

Maxine said if “he pushes us hard, we need to push back.  We have come too far, cried too hard, made too many gains to go back.  We will fight racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, voter intimidation and suppression.”

The NAACP has fought voter suppression by promoting early voting and challenging new voter identification laws.  Maxine promised to work for voter rights and will investigate reports of voter suppression by voting machines not working, having too few voting machines and intimidation.

“Hillary won the popular vote, so some want to have the Electoral College system changed,” Maxine said.

“We are up against challenges and need to discuss them,” she said.

She is concerned with reports that Trump defrauded students; cheated some contractors out of pay; misused donations to his foundation; assaulted women and bragged about it, did not release his taxes, and called Hillary Clinton a crook, while he faced 75 outstanding charges.

Maxine believes America is already great. 

“We believe in democracy and will struggle for it to support infrastructure, and education,” she said.

While unsure if the wall will be built or Obamacare undone, Maxine is disturbed that his tone has emboldened forces of racism and hate.

She said the way he demeans women will make it hard to work with him.

Maxine believes today’s NAACP members have the same determination the founders had.

“We have much work to do.  We cannot roll over and say everything will be okay,” she said.

As a ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, she called people to pay attention to what happens with regulators, like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

“We did not pay attention in 2008, and the country faced a recession,” said Maxine, who worked to pass the Dodd-Frank Reform of Wall Street.  “It will happen again if we do not break up institutions.  With Republicans in control of the three branches of government much is at risk.”

She expects tax breaks for the richest 1 percent and an undoing of laws and regulations that protect people.

For the NAACP, it means fighting the same old fights, as well as new fights.  That includes building low-income housing and challenging war-on-drugs laws that incarcerate too many people of color.

Appealing for support, Maxine said the NAACP is especially important today.

She called people to protest peacefully, because “we have the right to voice our opinions and challenge government.”

“Think of how far we have come, of the sacrifices of our forefathers and foremothers.  Think of our children and grandchildren.  Think of the many peace treaties that are in place so we can avoid nuclear annihilation.”

She challenged people to wake up each day inspired to act, so “we do not go back or roll over.” 

NAACP president Phil Tyler reminded those at the banquet:

“Your voice matters.  You have amazing skills.  Now more than ever we need to be involved with our neighborhoods, our cities, our state and the country.”

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