Waters Speaks on Los Angeles

U.S. Rep. Says Healing City Can Give Examples for Nation

The Los Angeles districts torn by last year's riots can provide an example to a nation which needs to take responsibility for its youth, Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) told a crowd of 70 gathered in Emerson Hall last night.

Waters, who represents the California district that includes South Central Los Angeles, said she had prepared a standard speech but decided instead to speak extemporaneously about a weekend spent in her home area.

Waters described the opening on Saturday of a sporting goods store and playground in her district. The business was opened in an effort to connect young people in the projects with job training through state government funds, she said.

The representative said the business, owned by a banker, a doctor and "two boys from the 'hood," will "help people learn about ownership."

Shifting her focus to last year's "insurrection in Los Angeles," Waters said she often tries to explain to outsiders the anger in her community. But "some people just don't get it," she said, citing radio and television show host Rush Limbaugh.


Waters had words of praise for President Clinton's new administration, complimenting his new deficit-cutting budget proposals. "I endorsed Clinton because I couldn't stand another day with Bush," she said.

But she had little praise for former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp's policies.

"I was tired of Jack Kemp saying you could own your own home in the housing projects," she said. "I got to the point that when I saw Jack Kemp, I wanted to tell him to shut up because people might want to live next door to him, not in the housing projects."

Referring again to her weekend, Waters spoke highly of a program sponsored by the Black Women's Forum in Los Angeles called "Men Who Dare."

The initiative honors Black men who have contributed to the community, including comedian Bill Cosby and Speaker of the California Legislature Willie Brown. Also honored was rap artist Ice Cube.

"We wanted to bring [Ice Cube] into the family and we want to support [the honored men] so they can do the right thing," Waters said.

Waters urged the audience, comprised mostly of Harvard students, to "take your knowledge and better yourselves and your community."

She concluded with a quote from Martin Luther King: "it is not enough to condemn the rioters, but we must condemn the conditions that brought about the riots."

Waters was invited by the Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students Association and the Harvard Divinity School Leadership Forum

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