U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), speaking at the NAACP Ypsilanti/Willow Run Branch Freedom Weekend “Affirming America’s Promise” dinner and award ceremony on Saturday night, blamed Republicans for Congressional gridlock.
The event took place at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Grand Ballroom.
Waters, considered one of the most important women in politics today, is known for advocating for women, children, people of color and the poor. She spoke to an audience of more than 100 people regarding current events and their impacts on the country’s future.
“I want to tell you a little bit about what is going on in Congress today, not that you don’t see a lot about it on television,” Waters said.
“This debate that we’re having in Congress today is extremely important to the direction of this nation. As many of you know, due to the uncompromising demands of the people on the opposite side of the aisle, known as the Republicans, Congress is stalled in gridlock and unable to execute its fundamental responsibilities to the American people at a time when communities are facing economic unemployment, home foreclosures, and income inequalities.”
Waters informed the audience about what was going on in Congress today, as she expressed her views on what it would take to “rebuild America.”
“We should create a national investment bank to leverage private capital to ensure that major projects are determined by merit, not political muscle,” she said. “We must rebuild our half-century-old roads and bridges and invest in the power of our country with fiber-optic cable. We must also increase federal support by hiring teachers as a catalyst for job creation as well as immediate and future economic development. We must invest in public education and job training.”
Attendee Lynne Davis, 51, said, “My favorite part [of the Gala Dinner] was Maxine Waters and when she talked about everything that is going on and what we should do—what she can do to help it.”
Following Waters was a speech given by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and attorney Mark Bernstein of the Sam Bernstein Law
Dingell is the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Throughout his time serving the public, Dingell has authored many laws and provided leadership preserving Michigan’s health and environment, improving food and drug safety, defending the rights of workers and customers and fighting waste, fraud and abuse in government and the private sector.
Dingell took Saturday’s audience on a journey through his career in Congress, spanning as far back as his election into the House of Representatives in 1955 at 29.
“This country has traversed many grounds as we have moved forward to where we are today,” Dingell said. “We have gone through times where a lot of people in this room would have been classless if the law remained as it was as three-fifths of a person. Isn’t that awful?”
Dingell, like Waters, was well received by the audience.
“It was marvelous,” Davis said. “I was so happy to see [John] Dingell.”
Besides the speeches, awards were distributed under names of great figures in history such as the Langston Hughes Award and the Thurgood Marshall Award. Waters, Bernstein, Dingell and wife Debbie Dingell – the Mistress of the Ceremony for the event – accepted awards, among other recipients.
“It went wonderfully,” said Shoshana DeMaria, president of the NAACP Ypsilanti/Willow Run Branch. “We are proud to have Congress representatives here. Next year, we will fill this place. Because we had a short time, we had about two to three short months to put all this together. But I’m grateful for the turnout; it was a success.
“And thanks to EMU for hosting us – they did a wonderful job. The food was great, everyone was talking about it and the hospitality from the staff here was immense.”
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