U.S. Rep. Waters speaks here

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BAINBRIDGE CITY COUNCILMAN Luther Conyers presents a a “key to the City of Bainbridge” to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters at Saturday night’s gala.|Justin Schuver

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from Los Angeles, Calif., visited Bainbridge on Saturday night, as she was the guest speaker at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church’s 73rd anniversary gala.

Waters’ nephew, the Rev. Mark Wilkerson, is the pastor of the church. The gala was held at the Charter House Inn in front of a large crowd that included Bainbridge City Councilman Luther Conyers Sr., Decatur County Chairman Charles T. Stafford and U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat whose district includes Bainbridge.

In her speech, Waters asked the gala attendees to get out the vote and re-elect both Bishop and President Barack Obama.

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“We can either be a country who cares about all of its people, or a country that only cares about the richest 1 percent,” said Waters, adding that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan would “take Medicare and put it in the hands of Wall Street and greedy people.”

Waters said she knows that voter apathy could be a problem in the 2012 election, especially considering the depressed economy. However, she pointed out that minorities went through an intense civil rights struggle to achieve the right to vote, and they should not take that right for granted.

She also expressed her concern that political action committees (PACs) could skew the election by spending millions of dollars on advertising.

“But guess what, people power will beat money power every time,” she exclaimed, to applause. “If this isn’t enough to make you want to go out and vote, then something is wrong with you.”

Waters added that although she disagrees with the philosophy of the Republican Party, and especially its TEA Party subset, she was impressed by their ability to mobilize and get out their message.

“We’ve got to do the same thing,” she said. “Not only are we going to re-elect this president, but we’re going to elect people who care about all of us, and not just a chosen few.”

Waters also cheered the character and hard work of her nephew, who began serving the Pilgrim Rest congregation in March.

“He is a very special man for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I am so proud of him, because I know that he could have chosen to live his life in a different direction, but he chose instead to give it to God.”

Earlier in the gala, Conyers presented a “key to the city” to Waters, and Bishop presented a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to Wilkerson.

Jonathan Rush and Russell McGriff performed musical solos, and a band of Brian Bilal, Timothy Clark and Marlon Williams provided live entertainment. Dr. Marvin Thomas, the principal of Bainbridge Middle School, was the toastmaster for the gala.