DETROIT, July 10, 2023 – State Representative Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) has issued the following statement regarding the passing of the Rev. Dr. Joann Watson this evening.

“Tonight I am shocked and heartbroken to learn that our city and our nation has lost a true public servant and freedom fighter, the Rev. Dr. Joann Watson.

“Rev. Dr. Watson was a God-loving force of a woman who made it her life’s work to lift up the voices of those who were so often silenced.  She not only loved others fiercely but she fought fearlessly every day for equality and freedom. Rev. Dr. Watson was the first (and only) woman to serve as the Executive Director of the nation’s largest branch of the NAACP here in Detroit, a former Detroit City Council Member and former President Pro Tem of the Council, a former delegate to both the Women for Meaningful Summits/USA and to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, and an appointee to the first Reparations Task Force in Detroit’s history – in 2016 she even served on a select committee of only six individuals who helped to ensure the historical and cultural accuracy of Melody, American Girl’s 9-year old African American doll from the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, this long list of professional accolades only scratches the surface of the legacy Rev. Dr. Watson leaves behind.

“My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Rev. Dr. Joann Watson as they grieve her sudden passing, and I pray they will be comforted by the knowledge that she is now in the arms of our loving Father, at home with the Lord. Rev. Dr. Joann Watson touched the lives of people not only all over Detroit, but throughout the world, and her work, as well as her memory, will live on for generations to come.”