Civil rights

Pinellas County civil rights leader Reverend Watson Haynes dies at 69

The Reverend Watson Haynes II, a pillar of civil rights who had a huge impact throughout the Tampa Bay area, died over the weekend, according to his family.

Reverend Haynes was a political, religious and civil rights leader in Pinellas County, and we are told he died peacefully Saturday after a battle with an illness. He was 69 years old.

He led the Pinellas County Urban League and worked to lift people out of poverty and drug addiction.

The Pinellas County Urban League posted this statement on its website:

“Reverend Haynes was a pioneering leader and a true community hero who will be remembered for breaking glass ceilings on behalf of African Americans in St. Petersburg. He was known throughout the Urban League movement as a man of courage and commitment who was always ready to fulfill the role of preacher as well as champion of racial and economic justice.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Rene Flowers was his sister-in-law.

“We’re doing our best. It’s a sad moment, but we’re trying to really reflect on how much he’s done for this community,” Flowers told FOX 13 on Tuesday. “It’s a loss to the community, but how do you pull yourself together? You take the things he looked at and those values, and you push those programs forward.”

Flowers told FOX 13 that a public memorial service was not held.