Former Pensacola ACLU leader passes

December 5, 2016

Susan Watson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, died on Friday after a brief illness, according to news reports.

The ACLU of Alabama posted the following on its Facebook page:

ACLU of Alabama
December 2 at 7:47pm ·
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our Executive Director, Susan Watson. Words are not enough under these circumstances to express our grief. We are thankful for your support during this difficult time. We remain committed to Susan’s vision of the advancement of civil liberties in Alabama.

Prior to being appointed the Alabama’s state director, Susan headed our chapter of the ACLU. She fought bravely for civil rights in this community and was my friend. She battled Escambia County Sheriff Ron McNesby over deaths in the county jail and abuse of Taser stun guns. We had many meetings with her and the late Leroy Boyd, founder of Movement for Change, on issues in this community.

She will be missed.

In 2005, we interviewed Susan for our popular column “The Last Word.” Here is a reprint of the column:


Last Word: Susan Watson

The American Civil Liberties Union first full-time Northwest Florida director is getting ready to host former Republican Congressman Bob Barr. He’s speaking at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 at Pensacola Junior College about revising the Patriot Act. Watson is also preparing to expand into Panama City. And she’s calling on the Escambia Sheriff’s Office to change its protocol in standoffs, after it shot and killed another lone individual. She hopes you don’t mind her messy new office, but she’s too busy helping protect people’s freedoms here.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Seeing my children happy and healthy.

What is your greatest fear?
That I’ll wake up and find that this job was just a dream.

What is the trait you most deplore?
Pessimism and apathy.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I don’t need extravagances…I have teenagers.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I may not be good but I’m fast.

When and where are you the happiest?
At home and at work.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I was a better writer.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children.

What is your most treasured possession?
My family.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To feel helpless.

What is your favorite occupation?
Working for the ACLU.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Determination and tenacity.

What is the quality you most admire in the opposite sex?
Intelligence and sensitivity.

What do you most value in friends?
Trust and honesty.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Hero is not a word that I use, but I admire my husband for putting up with me for all these years.

What is it that you most dislike?

How would you like to die?
Old…very old.

What’s your motto?
One person can make a difference!

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  • Greg Fink December 5, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    She was a real person and a great person.