Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson – Community
JoAnn Watson is a native Detroiter and has been honored as a “Distinguished Alumnus” of the University of Michigan. She is the Senior Pastor of West Side Unity Church & is the host of the Radio/TV show: “Wake Up Detroit” via Watkins Broadcasting. Rev. Watson was formerly: Detroit City Council President Pro Temp, Detroit NAACP Executive Director, Detroit YWCA Executive Director, YWCA of the USA Assistant Executive Director; and Public Liaison, U. S. Congress. She holds an Honorary Doctorate, is a College Professor at Wayne County Community College District, and a Professor at The Unity Urban Ministerial School. She is founding President of the National Association of Black Talk Show Hosts, & serves on an Advisory Board for American Girl, where they modeled a doll and several books about a 9-year old Detroit girl during the ’60’s Civil Rights Era, mirroring Watson’s life story. Dr. Watson was a delegate to the 2001 U. N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa & the 1989 Women for A Meaningful Summit in the USSR. Dr. Watson was recognized by The Nation Magazine in 2009 as “the most valuable local elected official in the USA.” As a workaholic legislator, Watson sponsored thousands of laws, including: “Water Affordability Plan” to help low-income citizens avoid water shut-offs; laws banning texting and talking while driving; ban on smoking in public places; resolution to mandate summer jobs for youth; “Bank on Detroit” program to promote financial health; AfricanTown/Paradise Valley Business District to promote the economic well-being of Detroit’s Black Businesses; Cost-Recovery Ordinance to recoup millions from utilities whose power lines are monitored by Detroit Police & Fire Fighters; 15 points added to job applications of City residents, and a “Marshall Plan” to fund the economic restructuring of the City; among other initiatives. Watson is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission and is a contributing author to “Should America Pay?”, the landmark book on Reparations, published in 2003. She has served as chair of the Detroit chapter of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA) & is a long-time member of N’COBRA’s national board. She is featured in the 2002 scholarly publication, “Eight Women who are National Leaders on Reparations”. Watson was a featured speaker at Sept. 16, 2016, Congressional Black Caucus Judiciary Hearing in Washington, DC, and she addressed Dr. Maulana Karenga’s NGUZO SABA Conference, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa in Los Angeles, on Sept. 25, 2015. Dr. Watson received the highest award of The Institute of The Black World-21st Century, November 19, 2016, in Newark, NJ. Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson is the daughter of an African Methodist Episcopal Minister & is the eldest of 10 born to Jefferson Nichols, Sr. and Rev. Lestine Kent Nichols. She is the mother of 4 (Damon, Nefertari, Stephen B., Maya); grandmother of 4 (Jendayi, Troy, Damon Jr., Carolyn Marie), & God Mother of 40. She has counted among her mentors: Mother Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, Hon. John Conyers, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Dr. Imari Obadele (aka Richard Henry), Gaidi Obadele (aka Rev. Milton Henry), Hon. Claudia House Morcom, Aretha Franklin, Dick Gregory, Dr. Charles H. Wright, “Reparations” Ray Jenkins, and others. Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson labors in the vineyard with Dr. Ron Daniels, Dr. Claud Anderson, Michael Simianga, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Hon. Dorothy Tilman, Dr. Ray Winbush, Dr. Gloria House, Dr. Iva Carruthers, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Atty. Derrick Humphries, Judge Greg Mathis, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, & Martha Reeves.