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Michael A. Johnson: Assistant Deputy Sergeant at Arms

Michael A. Johnson

“Who are these little kids with these suits and ties on?”

Michael Johnson describes how he 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.

JOHNSON: I kept looking at these young kids about my age running around the Hill in the afternoons while I sold newspapers. I was thinking, “Who are these little kids with these suits and ties on?” So I inquired and a few staff said, “Oh, those are pages.” I said, “What do they do?” They said, “Why they work in the Capitol, they go to school in the Library of Congress, and they get paid.” I said, “How much do they make?” At the time they were making about five thousand four hundred a year. That was the salary. So I asked Senator Aiken could I be a page, and he said, “Well, Mike, if you get your grades up, I’ll think about maybe giving up my elevator patronage position and bring you on as my page.” And that’s what happened. In December 1969 I showed the Senator and Mrs. Aiken my report card from my first semester in Junior High at Hine. I had all As and one B. He said, “Okay, good enough.” I got appointed in December 1969, so when the Senate came back in session in January from their recess, I was sworn in and got on the payroll in January of 1970.