100 Years of African-American Special Agents: Michael Mason
Retired Special Agent Michael Mason served for 23 years in the FBI, including as special agent in charge of the Sacramento Division, assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office, and executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Division. He shared his thoughts on his career, the FBI, and the role of African Americans during events in November 2019 marking the 100-year anniversary of the first African-American special agent, James Wormley Jones.
I always knew I wanted to work in law enforcement. And it started out I wanted to be a Chicago police officer and then as I went through high school I decided I wanted to be an FBI agent.
Believe it or not, all the interactions I'd had with Chicago police officers had been very, very positive and I saw them as people who wanted to help people. I think of this as my country and if we want to make it a better place, we have to do that from the front lines. And so I wanted to be a part of that.
I wanted to make sure that I was fairly treated as I went through the FBI and I'm happy to say that I was from day-one until the last day in the FBI. I always thought that if my race represented a problem for somebody it was going to be their problem, not mine. And that's just the way I conducted myself. I tried to work hard, I tried to do the right things, and I tried to be rewarded for that work.
I felt supported from the first time I was in my first RA. In my first RA, there was one other African-American agent but he was only there for about three months. Then subsequently another female African-American agent came. But for the most part, most of the agents in the office were white. But again, I thought, if you're going to have a problem with me, it's going to be your problem. So, I asked to go out on arrests, I asked to go out on interviews, I asked to do everything I possibly could to be as fully engaged as possible. And I'm grateful to say that all of those people allowed me to do that. So, my ascendancy, I did not meet with a lot of adversity on the way up.
The news right now has a dark depiction of law enforcement. But I like to think that for every bad incident that happens, I could tell you about a hundred good incidents that happen, a hundred good things that police officers have done. Black, white, Hispanic, brown, Native American, you name it. And at the end of the day, if we're going to want this country to be a safe place, an inclusive place, a place that respects civil rights and all the legislation that was passed in 1968, then we have to be a part of that. You can't be a spectator and say, okay when the attitude and when the environment gets right and receptive and embraces me, then I'll come in. No, you've got to come in and make it that kind of environment. I want to see people with more of a warrior spirit, quite frankly.
- 05.21.2020 — FBI Phoenix Joins Arizona Law Enforcement Leaders in Honoring the Fallen
- 05.21.2020 — FBI Sacramento SAC Congratulates Fairfield Police Chief
- 05.18.2020 — 2020 Police Week FBI Chicago Candlelight Vigil
- 05.15.2020 — FBI Dallas Honors Fallen Agents in National Police Week Message
- 05.15.2020 — FBI Honolulu COVID-19 Public Service Announcement
- 05.15.2020 — FBI San Diego Honors Fallen Officers During National Police Week
- 05.15.2020 — FBI New Orleans Recognizes Peace Officers Memorial Day
- 05.14.2020 — 2020 FBI Wall of Honor Memorial Service
- 05.14.2020 — Director Wray Honors Law Enforcement Partners During National Police Week
- 05.11.2020 — Minneapolis FBI Honors Fallen Agents in National Police Week Message
- 05.08.2020 — Jacksonville SAC Congratulates High School Graduates
- 05.08.2020 — Seattle FBI Recognizes Fallen Officers in Police Week Message
- 05.04.2020 — FBI Dallas COVID-19 Public Service Announcement
- 04.30.2020 — Inside the FBI Podcast Trailer: FBI Top Ten List Turns 70
- 04.30.2020 — FBI Jacksonville Honors Director's Community Leadership Award Recipient
- 04.29.2020 — FBI Volunteers Assist Families in Philadelphia
- 04.22.2020 — FBI San Francisco COVID-19 Public Service Announcement
- 04.21.2020 — New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Remarks on FBI During Coronavirus
- 04.21.2020 — El Paso Special Agent in Charge Remarks on FBI During Coronavirus Emergency
- 04.21.2020 — Luis Quesada, Agente Especial a Cargo (SAC) de la División del FBI en El Paso