Speaker Mike Johnson explained why his 'adopted' Black son is not involved in his public life

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana at a press conference on Capitol Hill in 2022.
Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana at a press conference on Capitol Hill in 2022.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
  • The new right-wing House Speaker Mike Johnson has an adult "adopted" Black son.

  • He explained why his son has chosen to keep a low profile and stay out of his public life.

  • Johnson has likened their experience to that in "The Blind Side," starring Sandra Bullock.

The newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson addressed the public absence of his "adopted" Black son.

Johnson and his wife took custody of a Black teenager named Michael 24 years ago and raised him as their son.

However, others raised questions when it became apparent that Michael was absent from Johnson's public life, including his absence from Johnson's family portrait on his website.

Johnson's communications director, Corinne Day, explained Michael's absence in a statement to Newsweek: "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.

"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."

The New York Times reported that Johnson has previously compared their experience to "The Blind Side," a 2009 movie starring Sandra Bullock, in which a white couple takes in a Black teenager who goes on to become a football star.

The Times also said that though he raised him as his own, Johnson said he never formally adopted Michael because of the "lengthy adoption process."

While testifying against reparations for slavery in front of a House committee in 2019, Johnson said that he understood discrimination because of his experiences with Michael.

"I have walked with him through discrimination that he has had to endure over the years and the hurdles he sometimes faced," he said. "I know all this because I was with him."

Johnson said at the time that Michael also opposed reparations because it defied an "important tradition of self-reliance."

The lawmaker also noted the differences between Michael's life experiences and those of his oldest biological son, Jack, during the uproar in 2020 over the murder of George Floyd.

"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," he said in a PBS interview.

"Michael being a Black American and Jack being white Caucasian. They have different challenges. My son Jack has an easier path. He just does."

The previously little-known Louisiana Republican was elected to be the next speaker of the House on Wednesday, winning with the unanimous support of House Republicans after several failed attempts to elect a candidate.

He has said he draws his worldview from the Bible. Before entering Congress, he worked in the Christian conservative sphere, including with the Alliance Defending Freedom. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated this Christian legal-advocacy group as a hate group.

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