For more than 40 years, since the advent of the “Southern strategy” in 1968 that put Richard Nixon in the White House, Republicans have used race as a wedge issue to scare up support from white voters afraid of changing demographics, increased competition and a perceived loss of prominence.
?RN was actually quite sensitive to America’s diverse and changing demographics. Aside from peacefully desegregating the nation’s schools, he launched several ambitious policies focused on the commonwealth of America’s minorities, especially Latinos.
Early into his first term he built a strong White House staff – composed of 22 high-ranking Latinos (more than any previous President) – to address and implement initiatives including:
- Counting Mexican-Americans as part of the U.S. Census.
- Steering federal dollars for job training to Spanish-speakers in the Southwestern United States and nearly $20 million for bilingual education.
- Promoting minority business ventures.
- Providing government loans and grants.
- Actively recruiting Latinos to high positions in public service.
- Providing Latinos protection from national origin discrimination as mandated under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Far from wedge politics, RN practiced the politics of inclusion. In 1972, he won over 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, up from a total of 10 percent in 1968.
RN’s initiatives for Latinos are the subject of the 7th Richard Nixon Legacy Forum, Creating Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking Americans on Monday, October 11 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.
Photo: RN (center-right) with the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking Americans.