A native Washingtonian, Roger Addison witnessed many changes in the District of Columbia and at the Capitol during his more than three decades of service in the House of Representatives. From moving furniture, to working in the main office for the Clerk of the House, and overseeing financial disclosures, Addison’s career involved a variety of unique, behind-the-scenes responsibilities.
In this interview Addison recalls his childhood in the District. He fondly describes the tight-knit community in his neighborhood adorned with many “mom-and-pop” stores. He also speaks of the civil rights movement and riots in the capital, as well as the mentors he had growing up in the city. After meeting with Congressman Sonny Montgomery of Mississippi (an interview arranged by his aunt), Addison received a job as a laborer moving furniture in the Capitol complex. He recalls how he learned to read blueprints, the comradery he developed with his co-workers, and the intricate scheduling involved in moving furniture after elections before the beginning of a new Congress. As a young African-American employee, he remembers paying close attention to the careers of Black Members like John Lewis, Ron Dellums, and Walter Fauntroy.
Addison used his familiarity with the capital’s streets and his District hack license to get a job as a driver for the Clerk of the House. As one of two drivers he spent time on the road and in the Clerk’s main office. During this period he witnessed historic events like the shooting of two Capitol Police officers in July 1998 and the evacuation of the Capitol after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Addison also describes the changes to the Clerk’s Office when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 40 years in 1995. A few years later Addison moved to the Legislative Resource Center (LRC)—an office created in the aftermath of the party change—to take a job as a Public Information Specialist. He outlines the function of the LRC, his specific responsibilities, and his promotion to the position of Registration and Compliance Clerk before his retirement in 2019.
In the late 1970s Addison briefly held a job as a dishwasher in the Longworth House Office Building before earning his chauffer and taxi licenses in the District of Columbia. Influenced by his aunt and mentor, Janie Mae (Kelley) Galmon, who worked as a chef in the Members’ Dining Room, Addison followed her advice to seek employment at the House of Representatives. With the assistance of Galmon, he interviewed with Congressman Sonny Montgomery of Mississippi in 1988 and received a job moving furniture at the Capitol. Addison worked as a laborer for three years before accepting a new position as a driver for the Office of the Clerk. Addison’s professional experience driving in DC and his intimate knowledge of the District made him a natural fit for the job. From 1991 to 1998 he provided transportation for the Clerk and assisted with other official duties such as bringing documents to the White House and local government agencies.
In 1999, Addison became a Public Information Specialist in the Clerk’s Legislative Resource Center (LRC). While at the LRC, he assisted staff and the public by pulling materials from the Congressional Record and offering guidance and advice on researching bills. Addison moved to the Records and Registration section of the LRC in 2005 where he served as an Assistance Compliance Clerk. Here he worked with financial disclosure forms helping the LRC move from paper record keeping to electronic files made accessible to the public. Addison finished his 31-year career for the House as a Registration and Compliance Clerk, a position he held from 2012 until his retirement on May 2, 2019. Upon leaving the Clerk’s Office, Addison moved from Washington, DC, to Columbia, South Carolina, where he resides with his wife Cassandra.