News from Progress Michigan

Tuesday, June 11, 2023 

Contact: Kim Hunter,, 313-287-2992

Progress Michigan Statement on the Passing of the Honorable JoAnn Watson

DETROIT – Yesterday, Detroit civil rights icon and former City Councilmember Rev. Dr.  JoAnn Watson passed away at the age of 72. The following is a statement released on behalf of Progress Michigan by staff members Kim Hunter and Lynna Kaucheck. 

“Some of us here at Progress Michigan had the privilege of working with Reverend Dr. JoAnn Watson when she was on the Detroit City Council, but she held many positions of leadership where she was instrumental in the fight for women’s empowerment and racial justice in Detroit. She was a warrior for economic justice and the representation of Black people and women in positions of power. She was a leader in the fight for safe, affordable water for all years before many realized it was an issue. Whether in her role as a local and then national leader of the YWCA, or as the first woman to head up the Detroit NAACP, the largest branch in the nation, Watson was unflinching in her pursuit of justice. Her influence as a media activist, teacher, Detroit City Council Member, and spiritual leader is as deep as are the feelings of loss. But when a person with this sort of legacy passes, it reminds us of the need to continue their vital work.”