10 Things You Didn't Know About Maxine Waters

Despite ethics charges, the California Democrat is expected win an 11th House term.


1. Maxine Waters was born Maxine Moore Carr on Aug. 15, 1938, in St. Louis. She was the fifth of 13 children raised by Velma Lee Carr Moore, a single mother.

2. At age 13, she started work as a busgirl in a whites-only restaurant in downtown St. Louis.

3. She married Edward Waters shortly after graduating high school in 1956, and they had two children.

4.The family moved to Los Angeles in 1961, where Waters worked at a garment factory and later as an operator for Pacific Telephone.

5. After the 1965 race riots in the Watts area, she became an assistant teacher in Watts for Head Start, a federally funded program focused on helping low-income students succeed in school.

6. In 1972, she divorced her husband and completed her B.A. in sociology at California State University–Los Angeles.

7. Her tenure at Head Start, during which she organized frustrated parents to press for more federal funding, inspired her to enter politics. In 1976, she was elected to the California Assembly, where she served for 14 years.

8. Waters married former NFL linebacker Sidney Williams in 1977. Williams later served as the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.

9. In 1990, Waters was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she has advocated for minorities, women, and poor communities.

10. This month, Waters denied House ethics charges that she improperly intervened on behalf of troubled OneUnited Bank, of which her husband is a stockholder and former director. She said her contacts with treasury officials about federal aid were on behalf of minority-owned banks, not for personal gain.


  • Notable Black American Women: Book II, edited by Jessie Carney Smith
  • Waters.house.gov
  • bioguide.congress.gov
  • Associated Press