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Michigan Department of Civil Rights Issues Statement on the Passing of Rev. JoAnn Watson

LANSING, MI—John E. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, has issued the following statement on the passing of Detroit-based civil rights leader Rev. JoAnn Watson.

“Rev. JoAnn Watson was a tireless freedom fighter extraordinaire who represented the best of public service and the commitment to the fight for civil rights. We mourn her passing and will miss her voice as an advocate for those who have been disenfranchised and the victims of systemic racism and oppression. Her legacy and achievements have been cemented in the annals of history.”

Portia L. Roberson, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, also issued the following statement:

“The Michigan Civil Rights Commission mourns the passing of Rev. JoAnn Watson. As a Detroit City Councilwoman, pastor, and the first woman Executive Director of the Detroit NAACP, Watson was unyielding in her quest for equality and racial justice. Her legacy serves as a shining example in the fight for a better world.”

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to

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