Watts, Jr., Julius C. | 2019
- Birth and Death Year | 1957 - Present
- Induction Year | 2019
- Profession | Business Executive
- Oklahoma Connection | Fourth generation Oklahoman that served in Oklahoma government as a corporation commissioner and served Oklahoma as a United States Congressman.
- Hometown | Eufala
First Oklahoman of African descent to be elected to a statewide office.
"I'm truly honored that someone thought the story of Oklahoma would not be complete without J.C. Watts, Jr. being apart of it." - Julius C. Watts, Jr., 2019
A fourth-generation Oklahoman, J. C. Watts, Jr., was born in Eufaula to Helen Watts and Julius Ceaser “Buddy” Watts. He graduated from Eufaula High School before being recruited on an athletic scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. After leading the Sooners to back-to-back Orange Bowl victories, where he was named MVP of both games, and earning a degree in journalism, Watts was drafted by the New York Jets. However, he opted to sign with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. After five seasons, leading the Rough Riders to Canada’s Super Bowl—the Grey Cup—and again being named MVP, Watts returned to Oklahoma.
He served as youth pastor for Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City before becoming the first African American elected to a statewide office when he ran for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. In 1994, he was elected to serve the 4th Congressional District of Oklahoma in the United States House of Representatives and four years later was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference. While on the Hill, Watts delivered the GOP Response to President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union Address and played a critical role in the legislation creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
After eight years in Congress, Watts established a private consulting business, became president of Mustang Equipment, the first African-American owned John Deere Dealership, and began writing. His latest book, Dig Deep: 7 Truths to Finding the Strength Within, was released in 2016. Watts was also responsible for launching BNC, the Nation’s only channel dedicated solely to covering the unique perspective of African American communities.