Ronald Reagan called representatives of an African country’s government “monkeys” in a 1971 telephone call with then-President Richard Nixon, according to a newly released recording of the private conversation.
The National Archives released audio of the call between Nixon and Reagan, who was then the GOP governor of California, earlier this month. Nixon, dogged by the Watergate scandal, resigned the presidency in disgrace in 1974. Reagan went on to serve two terms as president in the 1980s.
“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries. Damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes,” Reagan told Nixon, reportedly in reference to members of the Tanzanian delegation dancing in the United Nations’ General Assembly following its vote to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon (2L) talking to crowd. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994) 37th President of the USA with wife Pat at White House on 12 June 1971 at daughter's engagement
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Nov. 10, 2011 - Yorba Linda, California, U.S. - An old photo of Richard Nixon, from right, daughters Tricia, Julie and wife Pat waits to be hung at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda...//ADDITIONAL INFO: Tim Naftali, who stirred controversy while overseeing the conversion of t
Jun 05, 1974 - Cairo, Egypt - RICHARD NIXON (January 9, 1913 Ã April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States (1969Ã1974), having formerly been the 36th Vice President of the United States (1953Ã1961). A member of the Republican Party, he was the only President to resign the office as well as the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and the Vice Presi
Aug 05, 1969 - Malacanang, Philippines - RICHARD NIXON (January 9, 1913 Ã April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States (1969Ã1974), having formerly been the 36th Vice President of the United States (1953Ã1961). A member of the Republican Party, he was the only President to resign the office as well as the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and the
A half length portrait of Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat, 1950. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Politics, Personalities, USA, pic: circa 1950's, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Richard Nixon of California, pictured with his wife Pat and his two children Julie, left, and Tricia, Richard Nixon, (1913-1994) was the 37th President of the USA, but resigned in 1974 after the Watergate scandal (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
circa 1930: Members of the Whittier College football team with Richard Nixon wearing the number 12 shirt. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: President Richard Nixon (USA) toasts Zhou Enlai the Chinese Prime Minister during a state banquet in Beijing in1972. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
Vice Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon making a speech on TV. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 1953: William Knowland (L) and wife, and Joseph Martin (2R), joining Richard M. Nixon (R) and his wife (C), during the Governor's Reception. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
1953: Richard Nixon with his wife Thelma (Pat) Ryan and his two daughters Julie and Tricia during his first year as vice president. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
A portrait of the American Vice President Richard Nixon and his family, (from left) daughters Tricia Nixon and Julie Nixon, and wife Pat Nixon, United States, mid-20th century. Richard Nixon later served as the thirty-seventh President of the United States. (Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)
Richard M. Nixon riding with Syngman Rhee during his visit. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Richard M. Nixon and his wife (R) with Attorney Gen. Herbert Brownell Jr. on his daughter's wedding day. (Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Vice-President Richard M. Nixon (L) watching his wife Pat Nixon (2L) cut her birthday cake. (Photo by Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Richard M. Nixon at first formal press conference in White House. (Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Richard M. Nixon (R) with Malcolm S. Forbes and his wife, Nixon aiding Forbes during campaign for governor. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Richard M. Nixon addressing delegates at Sheraton Palace Hotel during the International Industrial Development Conference. (Photo by Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Vice President Richard M. Nixon (R) and his wife carrying a child. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
gina lollobrigida, richard nixon, pat nixon
President Richard M. Nixon and Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA Administrator.
U.S. President Richard Nixon during Press Conference Regarding Middle East Crisis and Watergate, 1973
Elvis Presley poses for a photo with US President Richard M. Nixon in the Oval Office at the White House December 21, 1970 in Washington, DC.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President of the United States, Smiling Portrait, 1969
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In a subsequent telephone call to then-Secretary of State William Rogers, Nixon said Reagan “saw these cannibals on television last night, and he says, ‘Christ, they weren’t even wearing shoes, and here the United States is going to submit its fate to that,’ and so forth and so on.”
The National Archives first released audio of the Reagan-Nixon call, which Nixon had taped in the White House, in 2000, but Reagan’s racist comment was redacted. Reagan died at age 93 in 2004.
Tim Naftali, the director of the Nixon Presidential Library from 2007 to 2011, requested a review of the redaction. The National Archives released the full clip earlier this month, and The Atlantic shared it Tuesday, along with Naftali’s commentary.
“This October 1971 exchange between current and future presidents is a reminder that other presidents have subscribed to the racist belief that Africans or African Americans are somehow inferior,” Naftali added. “The most novel aspect of President Donald Trump’s racist gibes isn’t that he said them, but that he said them in public.”