Joyce Beatty was born on March 12, 1950 in Dayton, Ohio. She earned a BA in speech from Central State University in 1972, and an MS in counseling psychology from Wright State University in 1975. She also pursued some doctoral-level studies at the University of Cincinnati. In her post-college years, Beatty worked as the director of a rehabilitation center from 1970-74, a professor at Sinclair Community College from 1974-83, a professor at Capital University from 1979-92, and the executive director of Montgomery County (Ohio) Human Services from 1983-93. Since 1992 she has been the president of Joyce Beatty & Associates Inc., a consulting/training company.
Beatty first became politically active in 1996 when she served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention, a role she also filled at the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Conventions.
In 1999 Beatty was appointed to succeed her husband, State Representative Otto Beatty Jr., who was retiring from the 21st House District seat he had long held in the Ohio state legislature. The following year, Mrs. Beatty captured 82% of the vote in the general election and won a full term in the State House of Representatives. In 2002 she ran for Ohio’s newly redrawn 27th House District seat and again won overwhelmingly—a feat she would repeat twice more, in 2004 and 2006. When term limits prevented Beatty from running yet again in 2008, she spent the next three years (2008-11) as senior vice president of Ohio State University’s (OSU) outreach-and-engagement office, a job that paid her a $320,000 salary, plus benefits. Because Ohio, at that time, used the three highest years of salary as the basis for calculating the pension payouts of its public-sector employees, Beatty, after leaving her job at OSU, began earning a state pension of $253,323 annually in 2012.
Also in 2012, Beatty ran successfully for Ohio’s Third Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she continues to serve (as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus). Between her congressional salary and her Ohio state pension, Beatty currently earns more than $425,000 per year.
In November 2014, Beatty was outraged by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury’s decision not to prosecute a local white police officer who, just over three months earlier, had shot and killed an 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown in an altercation that set off a massive wave of nationwide protests denouncing an alleged epidemic of police brutality against African Americans. Though the grand jury’s decision was based on overwhelming ballistic, eyewitness, and forensic evidence indicating that Brown in fact had assaulted the officer and had tried to steal his gun just prior to the fatal shooting, Beatty nevertheless depicted him as a young man who had been preparing “to start technical college,” “hoped to start his own business,” and “strove to set an example for his younger siblings.” “Instead,” the congresswoman lamented, “another loss. Michael Brown fell victim to a criminal-justice system that too often fails people of color.”
In August 2018, Beatty was a founding member of the Medicare For All Congressional Caucus, which promotes the implementation of a single-payer, government-run healthcare system.
On July 15, 2021, Beatty led a group of demonstrators into the Hart Senate Office Building (in Washington, D.C.) to protest voter-integrity laws that Republican legislatures in a number of states were promoting, and to advocate for passage of the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. For her role in the event, Beatty was arrested on a charge of “illegal demonstration activity.” In a subsequent interview, she said: “Here is what the No. 1 question has been about the arrest: There is a rule in the Senate and in the Capitol buildings, I guess — but more specifically where we were — that is was illegal to do what we did after being warned to leave.” But it was “kind of ironic,” Beatty continued, “that we were arrested quickly for violating the rule of it was illegal to protest as we were doing after being warned to stop. So, again, here we are with the disparities of treatment with less than 100 people, and then thousands of thousands of people who were not peacefully protesting” — a reference to the January 6, 2021 breaching of the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of President Trump on January 6, 2021. “We are in a critical point right now because we don’t have the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed,” Beatty explained. “And we thought it was important because the Senate has not been acting on anything. So we thought it was important for us, one, to demonstrate our power. Two, to educate the American people that this is a big issue especially for us who are the most disenfranchised and demonstrated against.”
On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha. When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point he was struck on the head by a 39-year-old white man who jump-kicked him. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — a domestic abuse repeater and an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man. Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha. After a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021, Beatty in a statement called the decision “unconscionable” and said: “The ludicrous claim of self-defense is on par with the abhorrent behavior displayed by the prosecution and the judge. It is time for criminal justice reform, and it is beyond time for gun reform. While today is filled with disappointment, we must continue to champion justice and gun reform, and condemn vigilantism so this never happens again.”
As additional matters of principle, Beatty believes that:
For information about Beatty’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
Further Reading: “Joyce Beatty” (Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia.org, Keywiki.org); “State Lawmaker Joyce Beatty Headed for $320,000-a-Year Vice Presidency at Ohio State” (Cleveland.com, 9-17-2008); Congressional Pension Double-Dippers Club (by Carl DeMaio, May 2014, re: Beatty’s large pension and total income); Joyce Beatty’s Positions on Various Key Issues (OnTheIssues.org).