Lauren Watson, founder of the Black Panthers’ Denver chapter, dies at 79

“Lauren Watson, a founder of the Black Panther Party in Colorado, died Wednesday in the Cherry Creek Nursing Center. He was 79.

Watson, in the mid-1960s, was a founder of the revolutionary political organization in Denver in which he and fellow members picketed and protested at government meetings, political and school events, businesses and other Denver functions, mostly focusing on racial inequality and racial injustice.

An imposing figure, Watson, tall and lean, wearing dark glasses, dark clothing and a beard, was arrested multiple times by Denver police during his active Black Panther days on conspiracy counts, traffic violations, loitering, disturbing the peace and other counts.

In a 2015 video interview by Colorado History, Watson recalled his activists days and how he got started, based, in part, on a conversation he had circa 1965 with his mother, Ruth Martha Watson, a longtime Denver resident, community activist and noted poet. Watson said he had an attitude at the time.

“Mom said there is no point in sitting around being angry. Find some other people that feel the same way you do and things could be better,” Watson said on the video. “Get with them, and see what they’re doing.” Ruth Martha Watson died in May 1993.

Among the many protests Watson took part in were demonstrations opposing the Vietnam War. “Naturally, we were against the war,” he said in the video. In a speech at East High School, Watson said: “It’s a racist war.”

Known at times to walk the streets of Denver with a pipe wrench in his hands, Watson took pride in raising his arm and clenching his fist, flashing the “black power fist.””
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Nicholson, Kieran. Denver Post 9 August 2019.