Alista “Cozzie” Watkins, a local Democratic activist and party volunteer, died Thursday at Atrium Health’s Mercy Hospital, according to party officials. She was 71.
At the time of her death, Watkins served as the party’s chair for the 12th Congressional District, which includes much of Mecklenburg County.
A nurse by profession, Watkins “dedicated her life to caring for others,” U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who represents the 12th district, said in a statement.
Adams, a Democrat, called Watkins “a dear friend whom I admired, respected and learned from.”
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“As a Democratic volunteer, party chair, convention delegate, and activist, she was dedicated to bettering the lives of her neighbors and working for equity and justice,” Adams said.
The Political Black Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg remembered Watkins as a political force who “never minced words.”
“To say the least, Cozzie showed up and showed out for our community time and time again,” the caucus said in a statement.
As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2020, Watkins stood in front of a sign in Charlotte’s Hidden Valley neighborhood and delivered a video message casting 39 delegate votes for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and 93 votes for future-President Joe Biden.
“I have been doing this for a long time, so let me just be plain,” Watkins said in the video. “Black people, especially Black women, are the backbone of the party, and if we don’t show up, Democrats don’t get elected.”
She died surrounded by family and friends, according to the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, which did not reference a cause of death.
Adams, who called Watkins a “beautiful spirit and remarkable warrior for justice,” noted Watkins’ son, A.J.