She is Me, Activism and Policy: Meet Maxine Anderson

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Maxine Anderson, LWV San Francisco and LWVC Board

Meet Maxine Anderson, a member of the League of Women Voters of California Board of Directors and part of our new Criminal Justice Reform Committee. Maxine discovered the League of Women Voters of San Francisco after working on a partisan presidential campaign where she was recruited to conduct voter service activities. We sat down with Maxine to find out why she joined the League.
In 2003 Maxine was disgusted with politics. The war in Iraq was offensive to her. WHO would stand up against an unjust war? Soon a friend invited her to learn about a new candidate running for president. “I got involved through a meet-up group and I am listening to the guy’s platform, the speakers, issues aligned and I jumped in. This is how the process works!”

After many events across the country for this candidate (he didn't make it), Maxine couldn't let her political fervor go. She heard about the League of Women Voters but thought you had to know somebody to get in - like the Daughters of the American Revolution. Maxine attended a member meeting at the state-building and it sounded interesting. After the meeting was over, Maxine was recruited for voter service activities including registration, pros & cons speaking events. Maxine jumped at the chance and found it was good to speak in a nonpartisan fashion. Next, she was asked to join the board. “I was mad, I was pissed, and I had a lot of energy and said yes!”

As Maxine was going through the advocacy and action work, she learned all about policy and the way the League works. She learned how to move policy and how to pay attention to the laws. Soon Maxine saw how policy can make everything different. She realized how important the ballot measures were along with providing the public with voter information.

“One of my major takeaways from being involved in the League, now I look at the policy! That is one of the great things - and the people!

“You know, there are so many huge things that need to be addressed right now. You can be paralyzed by the enormity of what we face, environmentally, the issues of justice and equity - a myriad of issues. I believe what helps me and what I enjoy and respect about the League is we work on many issues. Now I always tell people to find the thing you are passionate about and do that!”

Reflecting on the Suffrage Centennial:

“I always thought that the suffrage movement was some white women in white dresses marching down the street and the men gave them the vote. Women were tortured, women were doing everything - sitting down, standing up, fighting - there was more to it than just calm marching. As I got further along in the women of color in the suffrage movement I discovered there were many black women involved, as abolitionists, moved to work on the issue of suffrage. They were in there talking, advocating, and fighting for women's rights - rights to vote. The vote was the way to change things.”

The Future of the League

Maxine believes the League is evolving and learning more about partnerships in advocacy and better ways to show up on the issues. “We are learning not to take the lead.  We are making ourselves known to groups that may not have thought of us first as an ally. If we can be known as an ally, fantastic!”

“Over the next 100 years, the League is going to be it’s most effective. As we diversify, as we say as an organization that all human beings should have the right to vote, that all human beings are involved in the efforts of natural resources. All human beings are involved in social justice. We have to affirm humanity - all our positions speak about this. We affirm the humanity of the people excluded from the system. What kind of word can we imagine? We make one beautiful collage of what our state can be for humanity - we are going to be in a better place”.

Maxine was born and raised in Chicago and has worked in both the private and public sectors: first as a private industry insurance adjuster and then as a claims adjuster in San Francisco’s City Attorney’s Office. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission gave her the HERO award for her outstanding contributions to voting rights. For fun, she enjoys traveling and reading. Find out more about Maxine’s voting story profiled by KQED Arts & Culture.