- Democratic Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Views America as a nation awash in racism
See also: Congressional Black Caucus Democratic Party
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Hank Johnson Jr. was born on October 2, 1954 in Washington, DC. He earned a BS at Clark College in 1976 and a JD at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1979. Johnson subsequently worked for twelve years as an associate judge in the DeKalb County (Georgia) Magistrate Court; five years as DeKalb County commissioner; three years as chair of the DeKalb County budget committee; and a number of years as a criminal and civil litigator for the Johnson and Johnson Law Group. In 2008 he served as co-chair of the Barack Obama Presidental Campaign in Georgia.
After defeating incumbent Cynthia McKinney in the 2006 Democratic primary race for Georgia's 4th Congressional District seat, Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He has held that post ever since, and is a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In September 2009, Johnson demanded that Republican Representative Joe Wilson be censured for having shouted “You lie!” during the portion of Barack Obama's healthcare-related speech to Congress where the President pledged that his proposed reforms would not extend health insurance to illegal immigrants. Charging that Wilson's outburst had racial undertones, Johnson argued that if the congressman was not formally rebuked, “we will have people with white hoods running through the countryside again.”
On December 22, 2009, Johnson was one of 33 U.S. Representatives who signed a letter to Hillary Clinton, calling on the Secretary of State to pressure the Israeli government to end its ban on Palestinian student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. “We applaud your efforts to support educational opportunities for Palestinian youth, including your initiative to increase U.S. funding for Palestinian universities and educational programs in Gaza and the West Bank,” added the letter.
In March 2012, not long after a “white Hispanic” neighborhood-watch captain named George Zimmerman had shot and killed a black teenager named Trayvon Martin in an altercation that mushroomed into a natonal media obsession, Johnson claimed that Martin had been “executed for WWB in a GC—Walking While Black in a Gated Community.”
In November 2012, Johnson—angered by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission ruling which held that corporations have a right to freedom of political speech—condemned American corporations for seeking to “control” people's “patterns of thinking” via media “messages” that teach them to “hate [their] government.” To remedy this problem, Johnson called for “a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations.”
In January 2013, Johnson charged that racism lay at the heart of the National Rifle Association's opposition to the gun-control legislation which President Obama was advocating. “First of all, he is a black,” said Johnson. “And as a black person being the president of the United States, that is something they [the NRA] still cannot get over.”
In June 2013, Johnson condemned black Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for voting to strike from the 1965 Voting Rights Act a provision that designated which parts of the country needed to have any proposed changes to their election laws pre-cleared by the federal government or a federal court. (Click here for details of that provision and its ramifications.) By Johnson's reckoning, Thomas’s “offense” was “worse” than that of the infamous National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Moreover, Johnson called it a “tragedy” that Thomas, a conservative, had repeatedly issued decisions that were “to the detriment of the African-American community.”
In December 2014 Johnson told a radio interviewer, “Barack Obama has been one of the greatest presidents that we have had in the history of this nation. It’s unfortunate that since he raised his hand and took the oath in his first inauguration, that he’s been met with nothing but opposition, and confrontation, and actual, personal dehumanization.” Further, the congressman condemned the popular black conservative and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson for: (a) “trying to tap into the ignorance of people who have been whipped into a frenzy, like a lynch mob,” and (b) appealing “to the lowest common denominator” of the human spirit.
In January 2015, Johnson went to the House floor to argue against the Regulatory Accountability Act, a bill aiming to require federal agencies to give advance notice of proposed regulations that were likely to have a substantial impact on the U.S. economy. Characterizing the 85,000+ pages of regulations that are added to the Federal Register each year as “the things that help make America a great country,” the congressman declared: “Don't think that regulations are hurting you. Regulations are causing what benefits you are taking advantage of now.”
That same month, Johnson objected vehemently when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his (Netanyahu's) “profound disagreement” with the negotiated deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran. Specifically, Johnson took exception to “President Barack Obama being a black man disrespected by a foreign leader.”
At a Congressional Progressive Caucus forum in March 2015, Johnson spoke about the recent rise of ISIL, the barbaric Islamic terrorist group that had overrun vast swaths of Iraq since President Obama—against the recommendations of his military advisors—withdrew all remaining U.S. troops from that country in December 2011. “A lot of people want to blame ISIL on the President, but its not truly his fault,” said Johnson. “He did exactly what needed to be done.”
In April 2015, after a white South Carolina police officer was charged with murder after fatally shooting a fleeing black man in the back during a traffic stop, Johnson said: “It feels like open season on black men in America and I’m outraged. In fact, all Americans are at risk when bad actors in law enforcement use their guns instead of their heads.”
For an overview of Congressman Johnson's voting record on an array of key issues, click here, here, and here.
For additional information on Hank Johnson Jr., click here.