On Matters of Race, New Speaker Cites His Black Son

Mike Johnson and wife took in a Black teen as newlyweds, though they didn't formally adopt
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2023 10:30 AM CDT
On Matters of Race, New Speaker Cites His Black Son
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/David Becker)

New House Speaker Mike Johnson is a Southern Republican with four biological children, as can be seen in photos from his official website. But a new wrinkle to his family life has emerged amid the flood of coverage about the Louisiana congressman: He and his wife took in a Black teenager as newlyweds and raised him into adulthood, reports Newsweek. So why is there no sign of Michael on Johnson's website? "At the time of the speaker's election to Congress, Michael was an adult with a family of his own," says spokeswoman Corinne Day in a statement. "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."

Day tells the New York Times that Johnson and his wife never formally adopted Michael but raised him as part of their family. He would be about 40 now, per Talking Points Memo. Johnson, 51, has said Michael, whom he describes as a son, came from a troubled background but hasn't provided much detail on the circumstances. The congressman has spoken of Michael in public, including in this 2020 interview, and has managed to draw criticism from both the left and the right with his comments. After the George Floyd killing, for example, Johnson called it an "act of murder" and contrasted the lives of Michael and Johnson's biological son Jack. "Michael being a Black American and Jack being white Caucasian," he said. "They have different challenges. My son Jack has an easier path. He just does."

Critics on the right faulted him at the time for espousing what one called the "Left's racial narrative." But on the matter of reparations, Johnson drew flak from the left when he said at a congressional hearing that Michael opposed the idea because it went against the principle of "self-reliance." Johnson also brought up Michael in his recent Sean Hannity interview on Fox. "Having raised two 14-year-old boys in America and the state of Louisiana, they had different experiences," he told Hannity. "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." (More Mike Johnson stories.)

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