“Black history is not just black history, it’s American history,” said J.C. Watts, Jr., a former congressman of Oklahoma, while discussing the current state of our nation, in an Alumni Hall lecture regarding Black History month.
The two-hour discussion, which took place on Wednesday, Feb. 4, covered a wide variety of issues, including taxation, politics, the economy, and the role of journalists in our society.
Mr. Watts, a former quarterback for the legendary Oklahoma Sooners in the 1980s, politely addressed attendants as “ma’am and sir,” and fielded several questions from an enthusiastic audience, who got to know Mr. Watts on a more personal level in Mancheski Hall, an hour prior to his lecture, which provided a more intimate setting.
The former chair of the House Republican Conference candidly lectured students, faculty and alumni about his eight years of experience as a member in the United States Congress.
Watts also discussed his retirement from the political arena, after just recently stepping down from his position, but not without some resistance from people like Rosa Parks, and others who felt he has made such a tremendous difference in our government. Parks called him personally, and tried to convince him to stay for another term, but he refused. He admits he has enjoyed the transition from congressman, to family man.
Watts and his wife reside in Oklahoma with their 5 kids. According to the former congressman, the simple things like going out to the movies with his wife on a week night, and seeing his son’s baseball game, instead of being in Washington, has been a real treat.
The focus of his lecture centered mainly around “personal responsibility,” something President George W. Bush speaks about on many occasions. He spoke about the benefits of competition in our marketplace, and how the government is not the only one who can offer a product or service. Watts also mentioned taxes, an issue that affects all Americans, both rich and poor. Like many Americans, he feels we are simply taxed too much.
“The issues of today don’t need more money in order to be solved, it’s the government’s lack of common sense with money that contributes to the problem,” Watts said.
In addition, he believes that the creation of new models will help alleviate some of the heavy taxation and solve some of the other issues concerning us today.
Although Watts has stepped down from his position in Congress, he still keeps active in Republican politics and is a leader in his daily life. He serves his community and church as a Baptist minister, and is the author of his book, “What Color is a Conservative.” Watts also owns his own consulting business, the J.C. Watts Companies, which he takes a lot of pride in.
“If I don’t take care of my clients, someone else will,” Watts said.
Watts, who holds a degree in journalism, answered a question from the audience having to do with the changing role of journalists today. He gave some succinct advise for future journalists.
“Report the facts, not your opinion, and get it right the first time,” he said.
Journalists have become obsessed with getting the information to the public first, but not necessarily getting it right. This is something he cautioned future journalists about.
The audience in general seemed to be pleased with his speech, including Kathy Grassi, a freshman, majoring in History, who first became familiar with Watts during the Clinton impeachment trial.
“I love J.C. Watts, and I found him to be a dynamic speaker. I was happy that he came to Quinnpiac’s campus,” Grassi said.
Several other students were grateful for his recognition of nationally domestic issues.
“He was a good speaker, who brought up issues that were very important,” Danielle Lesser, a freshman Criminal Justice major, said.