Political trailblazer to fete 90th birthday
Recognizing the retired congresswoman’s upcoming 90th birthday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed Nov. 12-19 as Diane E. Watson Week in the county. She’ll turn 90 on Nov. 12.
Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Janice Hahn jointly introduced a motion calling for the proclamation, which was approved unanimously by the board.
“Diane Watson has made remarkable contributions to our local communities, the state of California and our nation,” the motion proclaims. “Her impact stretches across politics, authoring legislation and launching initiatives for the betterment of our citizens with a particularly strong impact on women and people of color.
“Her impacts can be seen locally and globally as she has inspired many people to seek careers in politics and public service who have gone on to make remarkable contributions and achievements.”
Board members heaped praise on Watson, who sat in the front row of the hearing room to accept the honor. They credited her with paving the way for five women to occupy the seats on the powerful Board of Supervisors.
Watson received a standing ovation as she stepped to the microphone to accept the honor.
“I am so fortunate to have known you. I am so fortunate to be with you—each and every one of you,” she told the board. “...You know I’m retired. If you don’t know the definition of retirement, I will send it to you in the mail. I tell everybody all the time. I’m retired. Do you know what that means? ... You see, I can lay back here on the West Coast and see all of you rise. And I know that you’re going to continue.”
Watson retired from Congress in 2011 after representing her Los Angeles-area district for a decade. She was succeeded by now-Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
Prior to her time in Congress, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. ambassador to Micronesia.
A former teacher, she began her political career in 1975, when she became the first Black woman ever elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. She became the first Black woman elected to the State Senate three years later.