By Ricky Richardson
(Los Angeles, CA) It is the most wonderful time of the year! Everyone is enjoying and experiencing the spirit of the holidays.
This is also a special season for a special reason. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Honorable Diane Edith Watson is glowing brightly in the spotlight on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
Metro officials, elected officials, family, friends and community stakeholders were in attendance for the event in Leimert Park Village honoring the Honorable Diane Edith Watson.
The Honorable Diane Edith Watson celebrated her 90th birthday on November 12, 2023, and all throughout the week; Los Angeles honored her illustrious career of public services. Watson’s career has been distinguished by her work on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board (LAUSD), her impactful legislation as a State Senator, her representation in the United States Congress, and service as a U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors designated November 12-19 as Diane E. Watson Week. Also, Los Angeles City Council and LAUSD issued formal Proclamations declaring the weeklong observance! The accolades keep coming in. Los Angeles Metro honored the great work of the Honorable Diane Edith Watson by taking over the Leimert Park Station (4330 Crenshaw Blvd) and renaming it for her honor on the occasion of her 90th birthday and for her honorable distinguished leadership in support of mobility-enhancing projects across Los Angeles County.
Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins served as emcee and gave welcome remarks, beginning with “what a beautiful day it is.” I would second that by quoting Mr. Rogers “it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Father Prosper Hedagbui, Church of the Transfiguration provided the Invocation. Humorous, inspiring and memorable remarks were delivered by Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Jr., and California Senator Steven Bradford. Mayor James T. Butts Jr. presented the Honorable Diane Edith Watson with a proclamation. Video greeting from Metro Board Members were shown during the ceremony. The Honorable Diane Edith Watson acknowledged family and friends, especially Sweet Alice Harris in attendance. She thanked everyone for honoring her on this special occasion and spoke fondly of her illustrious career.
The festive program concluded with closing remarks by Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, followed by group photos with the Honorable Diane Edith Watson. Honorable Diane E. Watson: in 1975, Watson became the first African American woman to serve on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. There, she worked to expand school integration and make academic standards more rigorous. In 1978, Watson became the first African American woman to be elected to the California State Senate where she played a major role in formulating that state of California’s TANF program. Watson also sought funding to help teen mothers complete their education and gain employment through the Cal-Learn program. In 1993, Watson authored the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program act and Residential Care Facilities act. She introduced legislation to improve food health safety requirements for restaurants in 1997, and also played a key role in the enactment of legislation to promote breast cancer research. She served as chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee from 1981-1998, and also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the end of her senate term in 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed Watson to serve as the United States Ambassador to the Federated State of Micronesia. Watson continued in the role of U.S. Ambassador until 2001 when she was elected to fill the vacancy of the late U.S. Representative Julian Dixon under a special election. She was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 to serve two consecutive terms and retired in 2011.