J.C. Watts is chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Washington, DC, with operations in Texas and Oklahoma.
As chairman, J.C. provides strategic focus and program leadership to the firm’s business engagements, alliances and initiatives. J.C. has built a diverse business organization that includes the first African American owned John Deere dealerships in America and Watts Partners, a public affairs consulting company.
As chairman of Watts Partners, J.C. works with clients to implement business development, communications, government relations and public affairs strategies. He serves as a corporate director for several major companies, including Dillard’s Department Stores, CSX Corporation and ITC Holdings. In addition, Watts Partners has successfully worked on major civil rights issues at the federal and state level, including efforts to ensure voting rights and alleviate global poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. He has been an analyst for CNN and a frequent guest on national and international news and radio shows. J.C. has been widely quoted in major newspaper articles, both in the United States and around the world.
J.C. led a U.S. delegation to Vienna, Austria, at the request of President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Conference on Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia. He joined President Bush on his historic trip to Africa. He co-founded the Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa and serves on the board of the Boy Scouts of America. He also created the J.C. and Frankie Watts Foundation to focus on urban renewal and other charitable initiatives.
J.C. was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. In this capacity, J.C. provided daily counsel to the Speaker of the House, and participated in bi-weekly meetings with the President of the United States.
As a member of Congress representing the fourth district of Oklahoma, J.C. served for eight years on the House Armed Services Committee. He authored legislation to create and then he later served on, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the House Banking Committee. He led two congressional trade missions to Africa. He co-authored the American Community Renewal and New Markets Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 2000. He was the author of President Bush’s faith-based initiative, the Community Solutions Act of 2001. He also developed legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish a Smithsonian museum of African American history.
J.C. was born on November 18, 1957 in Eufaula, Oklahoma. He graduated from Eufaula High School in 1976 and attended the University of Oklahoma until his graduation in 1981. J.C. earned a B.S. in journalism. While at the University of Oklahoma, J.C. quarterbacked for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. From 1981 to 1986, he started for Ottawa and Toronto in the Canadian Football League and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Super Bowl his rookie season.
After returning to Oklahoma, Watts served as a youth minister at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City, Oklahoma from January 1987 until December 1994, when he became associate pastor. In 1990, he was elected to the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission and became chairman before running for Congress in 1994.