“The dramatic success of our Southern school desegregation problem is eloquently told by the statistics…As far as my administration’s overall record on civil rights is concerned, I believe we can point with justifiable pride to what was accomplished.”-RN, President Nixon’s Memoirs
The progression of civil rights for African Americans is often associated with the presidents whom preceded President Nixon.
President Truman integrated the military, President Eisenhower passed the first civil rights legislation since the Civil War and President Johnson famously signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
For many, the notable achievements made by U.S. presidents end there.
Often overlooked are President Nixon’s many accomplishments in the realm of civil rights, which have been left largely ignored and forgotten over the past 40 years.
Arguably, President Nixon’s most notable accomplishment in this area was the peaceful desegregation of southern schools.
Less than two years into President Nixon’s first term in office, the percentage of African American public school students attending desegregated schools increased substantially, from 5.2 percent in 1969 to roughly 94 percent at the start of the 1970-71 school year.
In a January 1971 article from the Washington Post, President Nixon’s historic achievement during the previous fall was discussed.
Four months later, in May 1971, the accomplishments and achievements of the administration up to that point were presented to the public in “The Nixon Administration Civil Rights Report.”
Among the highlights of the report concerning desegregation were:
- An increase of the 1972 civil rights budget of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to $325 million, a twenty-fold rise from the 1970 budget of $15.842 million.
- The percentage of African American students attending 100% minority schools decreased from 68% in 1968 to 18.4% in 1970.
The numbers in the report showcase President Nixon’s commitment to not just ending the practices of the dual school system in the south but providing equal opportunities for all Americans.
Although President Nixon’s civil rights accomplishments remain overlooked, it takes just a quick glance at the facts to set the record straight.