Limitless Leaders: Marc Beasley & John Goodie | Visit Mesa

January 26, 2024

Limitless Leaders: Marc Beasley & John Goodie

Mesa would not be what it is today without remarkable leaders like Marc A. Beasley and John Goodie. The two shared their stories and impact on Mesa throughout the years, hoping to educate more people on Mesa's black history.

At Visit Mesa, we find it important to honor and educate one another on Mesa’s history and culture that have made this city what it is today. During Black History Month, especially, we want to spotlight those who have helped shape our community and those who have pushed for change. Community leaders like John Goodie and Marc A. Beasley have seen Mesa through its ups and downs. They have paved the way for diversity and inclusion that wasn’t always as prevalent in Mesa as it is today. Their stories and experience are something worth noting and learning from, as there is always room for improvement. Learning from others is always a step in the right direction and learning about our past paves the way for nothing but positive progress.

Both Goodie and Beasley have become iconic leaders in the Mesa community. Their journeys, while entirely separate, have brought them to one another as they have similar mindsets and interests for the future of Mesa.

John Goodie first moved to Mesa in 1986. His story in the community begins with football, the NFL to be exact. Goodie was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1975 and trained with the Pittsburgh Steelers briefly in 1976. But, as Goodie puts it, he’s “always been a coach.” Since leaving the NFL, Goodie has coached for Mesa High School for 20 years, Westwood High School for six years and is in his fourth year of coaching at Chandler High School. His long history of sports in Mesa is important to him. He hopes to be a father figure for a lot of his students, whether they need it or not. He just hopes to be someone students and athletes alike can look up to. Underneath his cowboy hat, his love for sports and the community shines through.

For Marc, things have taken a slightly different course. He moved to Mesa in 1973 and started his journey in Mesa Public Schools (MPS), attending Whitman Elementary, Kino Junior High, and Westwood High. Growing up in Mesa has allowed Marc to see change, but also grow to want to create the change in the community himself. After graduating from Arizona State, he worked for the City of Mesa as a Recreation Coordinator in the Parks & Recreation Department. In addition, he currently serves as the Student Engagement Coordinator for Mesa Public Schools, is a college basketball official, and owns Monarch Sports, which is a sports event management company hosting multiple events per year. Coincidentally, he partners with Visit Mesa serving on the leadership team for the annual Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge each December. In his current position with MPS, Marc works with students to provide support among marginalized groups, on-campus cultural organizations, and students of color. For example, he works intimately with Black Student Unions (BSU) at four Mesa high schools, supports the AVID program at 15 secondary schools, and implements service projects for on-campus clubs.

To bring everything full circle, Marc grew up playing sports for MPS and has since continued to share his love for sports. Through this, he met John Goodie who says, “I’ve always got his back.”While the two implement their leadership in the Mesa sports community in different ways, they both hope to push for change. Among the six high schools in Mesa, there stands a current total of 11 African American coaches. While it may not be a statistic that Goodie and Beasley are proud of, they wonder what can be done moving forward. Marc referenced the Rooney Rule, which was created by the NFL and a mandate issued by the West Coast Conference where every African American candidate must be considered for head coaching positions. These ideas are something to consider as Mesa continues to grow and see change. Beasley stated that “sometimes, it’s just a visual thing” explaining when students see someone of color as a head coach, it serves as a form of motivation. It could be as simple as that.

Mesa has indeed come a long way in implementing diversity. However, the sports community did not always reflect the community as much as it does today. In the spring of 1991, the Super Bowl was supposed to be hosted in Arizona. This all changed when NFL owners voted to change the location to San Diego after Arizona voters failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid, state recognized holiday. Thankfully, this is just what the community needed to get the ball rolling. John Goodie explained how the state of Arizona had a “rough go for a couple of times” to pass the implementation Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After a few times of going to the polls, it was passed in Mesa in 1996, but was only originally recognized as Civil Rights Day. The votes were totaled at 52% yes and 48% no. Finally, the holiday was recognized. Goodie says, “I see it as a badge of honor, because the people actually went to the polls and wanted the holiday.” Previously, Goodie and other people of the Black community would celebrate MLK Day in the comfort of someone’s home. Eventually, Phoenix adapted the holiday, but it was still the only place in Arizona that would celebrate. The committee that continued to fight back and push for the holiday implementation in Mesa was grassroots, made up of people who simply cared. Members of the committee didn’t have to be people of color, but they all shared a common interest in wanting to bring the holiday to Mesa. Since then, other cities have followed in Mesa’s footsteps as it has now practically become an east valley celebration. John Goodie said, “A lot of things are worth fighting for, and once they materialize then you realize how gratifying it is. Nothing good comes easy.”

For sports and the community in general, leaders like John Goodie and Marc A. Beasley continue to push for change, big and small. Beasley mentioned his daughter plays volleyball at Alabama State University and notes how good positive and beneficial it has been for her to matriculate in the south. Growing up in the East Valley, it has remarkable for her to learn about civil rights in such an infamous place as Montgomery, Alabama. Beasley notes that she wasn’t used to diversity while growing up in the East Valley. This has encouraged Beasley even further to share his struggles with the community, adults and students alike. He explained how he struggled with his identity growing up. He only hopes to share this message with his students through his position with MPS. For instance, every Tuesday, Beasley wears a tie, calling it “Tie Tuesday.” It started when he worked for the city. One day, the city manager sent an email asking everyone to dress more professionally at work. When Marc started wearing a tie, everyone thought he was trying to show them up. Beasley confidently noted that he was trying to work within what the city manager mandated. He has since turned Tie Tuesday into a hope of serving as an inspiration. He says, “I want students and individuals to see a man of color in a tie.” Beasley hopes this serves as a message that students can aspire to do anything they put their mind to.

John Goodie and Marc Beasley both agreed that a message can be taken from representation for the city of Mesa as well. Both of them noted how great of an advocate Mayor John Giles has been for people of color. His sincerity and delivery of his state of the city address was something that continues to send messages as to what Mesa can be. Similarly, this year, 2023, Mesa celebrated MLK Day with a street dedication. The street is now named “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.” In addition, a portion of Broadway Road is now honoring Cesar Chavez. This day was something that many community leaders in Mesa had been pushing for years. As Beasley said, “After every rainstorm, there is a rainbow.” And this is just one of the rainbows that have come after years of dedication for a movement of change. The two, Beasley and Goodie, noted that young people are the movers and shakers. They are now the ones who primarily initiate change. With social media and everything being filmed, it is a lot easier to be made aware of pitfalls in our community. This will continue to push community members to strive for diversity and inclusion in Mesa and beyond. This can be reflected in the increase of African American men and women with leadership roles in the workforce. Mary Cameli is Mesa’s Fire Chief and Assistant Chief Forrest Smith are a part of this percentage increase of more diversity in the Mesa workforce.

Moving forward, Marc Beasley and John Goodie both emphasized the importance of storytelling. People understand one another better when they know their story. As John Goodie puts it, “It’s free to talk and share stories.” A group of people in Tempe meet monthly to do just that. This group is called Arizona Storytellers. Each month there is a new topic selected and five individuals stand up in front of the audience and tell a story. This event is held at Tempe Center for the Arts. Regardless, it is important to talk about change and issues within our community. At Visit Mesa, we value diversity and inclusion and understand that this comes from getting active within the community ourselves.