Sunday, August 8, 2010

An evening with J. C. Watts

J.C. WattsLast night I had the privilege to hear J. C. Watts speak. The event was a fund raiser for the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee and it was at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Houston.

J.C Watts served in Congress from Oklahoma from 1995 to 2003 and was the first Black Republican elected from the south since Reconstruction. He became a star in the Republican Party. While in Congress Watts argued for using tax reductions to improve education, job training and housing in poor urban and rural settings, and was an advocate for faith-based non-profits to deliver such services. Watts worked to make the Party more inclusive, promoted African trade, and supported historically black colleges and universities.

Prior to his service in the Congress he was a college football quarterback with the Oklahoma Sooners and played professionally for the Canadian Football League. Since leaving Congress is has engaged multiple interest including ownership of a John Deere Tractor franchise, cattle ranching, lobbying and consulting. He is also a minister and public speaker.

Last night J. C. Watts spoke of the importance of the Party reaching out to minority communities. He said it is not necessary that we change our message but it is necessary to build relationships. He urged the Party to seek diversity. "We have got the message" he said. "We have the facts on our side. They can lie louder, we can tell the truth longer. We need to keep telling the truth with a smile on our face."

I had a chance to chat with him in addition to hearing him speak. It was an inspirational and motivational event. Below are some excerpts from his speech:

On The Cheer of the Crowd and grading your own exam:

The cheer of the crowd can be so seductive. It can be intoxicating. If you are running for public office I want to warn you about the cheer of the crowd.

When we start listening to the cheer of the crowd, the next thing we do is you start to grade our own test. And, do you know what happens when you grade your own test? You always make a good grade.

Public service in not about me. I recognize that having heard the cheer of the crowd, there were times I said, '"Man, I 'd must be pretty good, I am all of the that."

And as my grandmother would remind me, "Boy your might me some of that but you ain't ever all of that ."

And remember that. If you are fortunate enough, blessed enough to be elected, remember you might be some of that but you ain't ever all of that, I don't care what the cheer of the crowd is telling you.

Taking our republican caps off long enough to be critical of Republicans: This consternation we are experiencing in the nation did not start with this president. the consternation started about the last two to three years of the Bush Administration, when was as republicans were spending like (I used to say, Like drunken sailors but that is offensive to drunken sailors), we were spending live there was no tomorrow. We got arrogant because we were grading our own exam and we were giving ourselves good grades.

On his political conversion and reserving the right to be an individual:

In 1980 as a journalism student I covered a political debate between a Republican and Democrat candidate for U. S. Senate. I went to that debate to cover it to get a grade. It turned out to be a life changing experience.

I left this debate and I was totally confused. I thought it was my birthright to be a Democrat. My uncle was President of the local NAACP for 17 years, my father ran for Chief of Police and County Sheriff has a Democrat in my small town of New Fall Oklahoma. I left this debate and I am thinking, how do I tell my uncle and my dad that I agree with about ninety percent of everything this Republican said? How do I tell them that?

Eight years later I switched my registration from Democrat to Republican. As a youth pastor, I said I will never again vote against my values. I will never again vote a certain way because the group things I should vote certain way. I have always had enough rebellion in me and enough individual spirit in me, that I don't think I have to agree with the Watts's just because I am a Watts. I reserve the right to disagree with my siblings. I don't have to agree with you just because I am a Republican. I reserve the right to be an individual.
Rod Williams, Louella Williams, J. C. Watts
Rod Williams, Louella Williams, J. C. Watts

In addition to the pleasure of meeting and hearing J. C. Watts, the evening was a great social event. I enjoying good food and wine and conversation with other Republican leaders and office holders. It was a pleasure to meet our gracious host, Dr. and Mrs. Houston, and see their beautiful home.

The homes is a large Italian-style villa filled with beautiful furnishings and art. The home has been featured in various publications.

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