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Mecklenburg Democrat 'Cozzie' Watkins, who caught the eye of the nation, dies

Alista "Cozzie" Watkins delivers her message during the 2020 DNC virtual roll call.
Alista "Cozzie" Watkins delivers her message during the 2020 DNC virtual roll call.

A long-time force in Mecklenburg County’s Democratic party died Thursday. Alista “Cozzie” Watkins, 71, was serving as the Democratic party chair for the 12th Congressional District. As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2020, she captured the attention of people across the country with her virtual roll call message standing in front of the Hidden Valley neighborhood sign. 

“I have been doing this for a long time, so let me just be plain: Black people, especially Black women, are the backbone of the party, and if we don’t show up, Democrats don’t get elected,” said Watkins.

Watkins led the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County and was a member of the Charlotte Planning Commission.

“She was dedicated to bettering the lives of her neighbors and working for equity and justice,” said Rep. Alma Adams in a written statement.

In her professional life, Watkins was a nurse.

She died at Mercy Hospital surrounded by family and friends, according to the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.