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Oral History Project

Michael A. Johnson Senate Page; Staff, Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness; Deputy Assistant Sergeant at Arms (1970–1974; 1978–2006)

Michael A. Johnson

Michael Johnson came to Capitol Hill in the late 1960s as a newspaper delivery boy and soon earned a spot as a Senate Page—the second African American to serve as a Republican page—under the guidance of Vermont senator George Aiken. After college, Johnson returned to the Senate and began working in the Senate's fledgling computer center. Over the years, under a series of sergeants at arms, he worked in various phases of Senate computerization and telecommunications, helping the institution to adjust to new technology and facilitate senators' communications with their constituents and state offices. In 2000 Johnson led a team that prepared the Senate's first Continuity of Operations Plan, just days before 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attack on the Hart Senate Office Building. Johnson's role expanded with the increased concern over security on Capitol Hill and the need for alternative meeting places for the Senate. In 2002 he became the first employee in the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness, and in 2005 he was promoted to deputy assistant sergeant at arms. In this oral history interview, Johnson shares his memories of the senators he got to know, his experiences as a floor page and then cloakroom page, the vast technological changes he witnessed over his 40-plus years in the Senate, and the challenges faced by the institution amid growing security concerns.


Scholarly citation: "Michael A. Johnson: Deputy Assistant Sergeant at Arms," Oral History Interviews, November 8 to December 1, 2006, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.