Joe Beasley, a human rights and civil rights activist, is celebrated throughout North America, South America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean for his extraordinary service to undeveloped communities and underserved African-descendant populations. In 2014, the US Library of Congress recognized Beasley’s tireless contributions to the betterment of underserved communities when it inducted his oral interview as one of a select number of black Americans who define the black experience in America into its historical archives.
Joe Beasley was born to Rozie and Alice Beasley, sharecroppers on a rural plantation in Inman, Georgia, on December 27, 1936. Beasley received his primary education in a segregated one room school house before moving to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1952, where he excelled in the local public schools. It was during this phase of his life that Beasley began to set high expectations and committed himself to a life of service. He ultimately received his B.S. degree in criminal justice from Park College in Kansas City, Kansas and attended graduate school at Clark Atlanta University.
Beasley’s career began in the U.S. Air Force, from which he retired as a police superintendent after twenty-one years of service. Beasley joined Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) in 1976 as a member of the Board of Directors of its Kansas City affiliate, and assumed the position of Executive Director of that chapter in 1978. Three years later, Beasley moved to Atlanta where he was named Chapter Coordinator, and in 1995 was named Southern Regional Director.
Under the leadership of the Reverend Cameron M. Alexander, Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church North, Beasley successfully tackled issues related to racial injustice, the eradication of poverty, and economic development in undeveloped and underserved communities around the globe. During the 1994 election that swept Nelson Mandela into power, Beasley worked with the African National Congress to register voters. Likewise, during Haiti’s second democratically held election in 1995, he served as an election monitor. Beasley is also credited with making a high impact visit to Zambia in 2002 after its contested presidential election. Closer to home, Beasley served as the Georgia Deputy Director for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, and also became engaged in the challenge of redistricting Georgia’s congressional boundaries to increase African American representation in the United States Congress.
Beasley has served as a board member and catalyst for change on numerous other forward-looking organizations which have impacted the welfare of ordinary citizens in the United States, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and South America. Some of his responsibilities include serving as a member of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City; a board member of Afronet in Lusaka, Zambia; board member of Afrobras in Sao Paulo, Brazil; board member of Christ Institute in Atlanta; and as Chairman of both the Benedita de Silva International Foundation and the Asian American Center, each located in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Beasley also was a founder of Zumbi dos Palmares College in Sao Paulo, the first Afro-Brazilian controlled institution of higher learning in Brazil. He has been appointed as a member of its Board of trustees and has the distinction of having the college’s library dedicated in his honor.