Maxine Waters told an audience of black millennials to "stay woke"

Maxine Waters told an audience of black millennials to "stay woke"

Maxine Waters knows her audience.

The longtime California lawmaker was the subject of a great profile from BuzzFeed reporter Darren Sands, who traces how the 78-year-old's outspoken defiance of the Trump administration has suddenly turned her into a viral sensation. Among the more intriguing anecdotes is this one, relayed by Million Hoodies Movement for Justice activist Dante Barry. He said that Waters made an appearance at a recent panel in D.C.

"Toward the end she appeared to be unable to recall her final statement," Sands wrote. "Then she remembered to everyone’s delight: 'Oh, yes, stay woke.' She walked out with the room on fire.'"

Waters — Auntie Maxine to the interwebs — has risen from the specter of a long and contentious congressional ethics investigation to bonafide social media star. Her abrupt press conferences, pull-no-punches sound bites and sidelong glances have turned her into one of the most outspoken Democrats on Capitol Hill and modeled the sort of no-holds-barred activism that more people are eager to see from their elected officials.

As it turns out, "stay woke" has become something of a catchphrase for Waters. In another speech on March 28, this time at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Waters told her audience: "I'm gonna teach you what the young folks have taught me: stay woke!" The crowd erupted into cheers.

Waters is proof that it's never too late to have your moment in the spotlight.