Rep. Maxine Waters takes impeachment campaign to the Washington suburbs

(Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters came to the Washington area’s only majority-black suburb on Friday to rally church and local political leaders to support her calls for the impeachment of President Trump.

At a prayer breakfast in Prince George’s County organized by local activists and the Maryland Business-Clergy Partnership, the longtime California Democrat railed against Trump for more than 30 minutes, riffing about the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and accusing the president of disrespecting the U.S. Constitution.

“I want you to know that I think African Americans have the responsibility to lead in this struggle,” Waters said. “We fought to make this democracy better, we’re not giving it over to him.”

“Auntie Maxie,” as she is affectionately known by supporters, found a sympathetic crowd at the Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md., where she received a standing ovation and was pulled aside for selfies by several people, including Prince George’s County elected officials.

One audience member asked Waters where the rest of the Black Congressional Caucus stood on the issue of impeachment. “We have not come together as a caucus yet,” she said, urging the crowd to organize and use social media to place pressure on their representatives.

Prince George’s County Council member Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington) said the black community needs figures like Waters to awaken an older generation that he believes has grown too complacent.

“I think we lost some traction,” Patterson said of the Democratic Party’s failure to engage African Americans to support nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. “That’s why the younger generation started shifting away. We need to offer them more.”

One of the breakfast organizers was Rev. Charles W. McNeill Jr., president of the National Capital Baptist Convention and pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Northeast Washington.

He said he is building a coalition of pastors and other faith leaders of color who want to play a bigger role in civic life beyond the pulpit, including interviewing potential candidates for local, state and national office and developing a policy platform that challenges the Trump agenda.

“The church has been the power for our communities. It has been the information center and where we have been taught justice,” McNeill said. “We have to watch everything. It’s no longer just civil rights.”