The newly elected Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is already making headlines, however, not only for his political ideals but also for his candid statements on the racial disparities in America and his personal experiences as a parent of an adopted Black son.
During a past interview, he talked about racism and the need for systemic change in the country.
Representing Louisiana’s 4th district, Johnson was elected as the Speaker of the House on Oct. 25, filling the vacant position after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. This election followed several attempts to select a successor.
Questions arose online about Johnson’s adopted son, Michael, prompting his office to issue a statement addressing their relationship. The Johnson family adopted Michael when he was 14 years old. The son is now an adult.
“When Speaker Johnson first ran for Congress in 2016, he and his wife, Kelly, spoke to their son Michael—who they took in as newlyweds when Michael was 14 years old,” said Corinne Day, communications director for Johnson, Newsweek reported. “At the time of the Speaker’s election to Congress, Michael was an adult with a family of his own. He asked not to be involved in their new public life. The Speaker has respected that sentiment throughout his career and maintains a close relationship with Michael to this day.”
During Johnson’s 2020 PBS interview with journalist Walter Isaacson, which is available in full on YouTube, Johnson talked about America’s racial disparities.
“It’s a reality, though, having raised two 14-year-old boys in America and in the state of Louisiana—they had different experiences,” Johnson said. “And I’m not so sure it was all about skin color, but it is about culture and society. Michael, our first, came from a really troubled background and had a lot of challenges.
“Jack, on the other hand, was raised in our household from the time he was born. And it struck me, Sean, that it’s a reality that there are different paths in life, and people have lots of things they have to overcome. So it gives you a lot of empathy. It allows you to see into the heart of people and really try to understand them better. And that comes in handy in this arena.”
Johnson told Isaacson: “We took him in as our own and Michael is now doing great. This is now 20 years later. He’s in his mid-30s. He lives in California—four children of his own,” adding that Michael had “a great family life.”
He added, “And he says to people—he shares his testimony—that were it not for our intervention in his life, he would certainly have joined a gang, gotten on drugs, wound up in prison or dead on the streets somewhere.”
In a video clip of the interview shared on the platform by PatriotTakes, Johnson said: “And I’ve thought often through all these ordeals over the last couple of weeks about the difference in the experiences between my two 14-year-old sons, Michael being a Black American and Jack being white Caucasian.”
He continued, “My son Jack has an easier path. He just does. The interesting thing about both of these kids, Michael and Jack, is they’re both handsome, articulate, really talented kids, gifted by God to do lots of things.
“But the reality is, and no one can tell me otherwise, my son Michael had a harder time than my son Jack is going to have simply because of the color of his skin. And that’s a reality. It’s an uncomfortable, painful one to acknowledge, but people have to recognize that’s a fact.”
Not all are impressed by Johnson. On Oct. 25, the Congressional Black Caucus vowed to fight “extreme MAGA ideologies” after House Republicans elected Johnson as speaker.
“It is unfortunate and unsurprising that the candidate House Republicans chose to rescue their Party from the infighting and self-dealing that ousted their own leader and left our country without a House Speaker for the first time in history, is a MAGA extremist who plotted with former President Trump to overturn the 2020 election,” the CDC said in a statement sent to BET.com.
Congressman Mike Johnson (Photo: United States House of Representatives, https://www.house.gov/feature-stories/2023-10-25-new-speaker-of-the-house)