Richard Nixon on Civil Rights

President of the U.S., 1968-1974


1959: Tie-breaking vote to strengthen black Southern voting

In 1952 and 1956, a majority of blacks backed the Republican Party. And Eisenhower gave them good reason to stay Republican. As soon as the landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education was handed down, Eisenhower ordered desegregation of the Washington DC public schools. In 1957 and 1959, Eisenhower proposed strong civil rights bills to enforce the long-neglected 15th Amendment and give Southern blacks the right to vote. Senate Southern Democrats filibustered the bills and succeeded in watering down their strongest provisions. And when the Southerners demanded that violators of the new civil rights bill have the right to jury trials (before all-white Southern juries), Democratic senator John F. Kennedy voted with the South, while Republican vice president Richard Nixon broke a tie in the Senate to kill the Southern amendment.

[In 1960], blacks voted for Kennedy by a margin of 70-30, more than enough to give the Democrat the victory over Richard Nixon.

Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p. 56-57 , Oct 11, 2005

1971: Required affirmative action for federal contractors

In Dec. 1971, Nixon's Labor Department required all federal contractors to develop "an acceptable affirmative action program," including "an analysis of areas within which the contractor is deficient in the utilization of minority groups and women, and further, goals and timetables to correct the deficiencies." In the decades that followed, government programs mandated a variety of requirements specifying preference be given to minorities in employment and in awarding of certain contracts.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p. 24 , Jun 14, 2005

1947: Joined HUAC to catch real Communists

During the early weeks of 1947 a staffer could peek into any hearing on Capitol Hill and watch the hunt for "Reds" in progress.

Richard Nixon won a dubious posting on the anti-Communist front: the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Speaker Joe Martin of MA wanted the 33-year-old Californian on HUAC for what he was, a lawyer, but also for what he was not, a crackpot. Such credentials were in short supply on a committee notorious for ignoring civil liberties and tilting at windmills. Nixon brought another talent to the committee table: an insatiable appetite for opposition research. That appetite had been whetted, not sated, by the digging done on Jerry Voorhis, which produced the lethal NC PAC memo.

The Honorable Richard M. Nixon, member of Congress, was now hunting bigger game than Jerry Voorhis. He was out to catch real Communists. The committee's junior Republican was not content: Dick Nixon smelled blood. 2 weeks later, he gave his maiden House address on the matter.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 46-47 , Jun 3, 1996

1960: Declined to commit to a black Cabinet member

On Oct. 19, a group of 75 African-Americans had politely asked for service at a whites-only restaurant in Atlanta. Among those arrested was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King feared with good reason that her husband, a black man, might not get out of jail alive. [Kennedy called Coretta]; the press quickly learned about John Kennedy's expressions of sympathy.

Nixon, meanwhile, was silent. For his failure to act, Nixon would pay dearly. A pamphlet, "The Case of Martin Luther King," laid out the story 'No Comment Nixon' Versus a Candidate with a Heart, Senator Kennedy," one caption read.

Two million copies were printed on light blue paper and delivered to black churches the Sunday before the election, and would be dubbed "the blue bomb". In a silent coup, black America was being moved overnight to the Democratic side of the ballot, from the party of Lincoln to that of the Kennedys.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.170-173 , Jun 3, 1996

Should not glorify homosexuality on television

I do not think that you [should] glorify homosexuality on public television. You donít glorify it anymore than you glorify whores. Now we all know that people do that-we all have weaknesses-but God damn it, what do you think that does to kids? What do you think that does to 11 and 12 year old boys when they see that? Why is it that in the Scouts and the Boys Clubs, that we constantly had to clean up the staffs to keep the Goddamned fags out of it? By God can I tell you it outraged me. Not for any moral reason. Most people are outraged for moral reasons. It outraged me because I donít want to see this country go that way.

You know what happened to the Greeks? Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, so was Socrates. The last six Roman emperors were fags. You know what happened to the Popes? Itís all right that Popes were laying the nuns, thatís been going on for centuries, but when the Catholic Church went to hell three or four centuries ago, it was homosexual.

Source: White House tapes: meeting with Haldeman and Ehrlichman , May 13, 1971

With open homosexuality, vitality goes out of society

During a discussion with Haldeman & Kissinger, the subject turned to homosexuality:

Nixon: Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop. They have a problem. They're born that way. The tendency is there. But my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, teachers, & others bring them in that direction. If you look over the history of societies, some of the highly intelligent people--Oscar Wilde, Aristotle--were all homosexuals. Nero was, in a public way, in with a boy in Rome.

Haldeman: There's a whole bunch of Roman emperors--

Nixon: But once a society moves in that direction, the vitality goes out of that society.

Kissinger: That's certainly been the case in antiquity.

Haldeman: The Greeks.

Nixon: They had plenty of it. I am not going to have a situation where we pass along a law indicating, "Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay." They can do it. Just leave them alone. That's a lifestyle I don't want to touch.

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p.107 , Apr 28, 1971

1953: chaired committee to eliminate federal discrimination

Since 1953 our Vice President had served as Chairman of a committee which sought to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race or color in the employment practices of government contractors. In addition, he regularly attended all meetings of the Cabinet, the National Security Council, and the legislative leaders. He had been a troubleshooter in politics and in civil rights, and he had a special talent for understanding and summing up the views of others.
Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p. 7 , Jan 1, 1965

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Other past presidents on Civil Rights: Richard Nixon on other issues:
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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022