A college football hero, charismatic conservative, and gifted public speaker, J. C. Watts had star power when he took the oath of office in 1994, as a Member of the first Republican majority in 40 years. One of two black Republicans in Congress in his freshman term, Watts cited his humble roots in a segregated Oklahoma farm town as the source of his belief in self–reliance and disdain of social welfare. “I wasn’t raised to be a Republican or Democrat,” Watts recalled. “My parents just taught by example. They taught me and my brothers and sisters that if you lived under their roof, you were going to work.” Watts quickly became one of the GOP’s most visible spokesmen, quickly rising to the position of Republican Conference Chair—the fourth–highest–ranking Republican in the House.
Today, Watts serves as Chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Washington, D.C., with operations in Texas and Oklahoma.