Ronald Reagan described Africans at United Nations as ‘monkeys’

The Atlantic has released newly obtained audio of an October 1971 conversation between Ronald Reagan and President Richard Nixon where the former used racist language to describe African delegates at the United Nations. Ronald Reagan referred to some Africans as “monkeys”

The two talked over the phone as Reagan lamented on United Nations delegates who sided against the U.S. in a vote to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Nixon told his deputy national security adviser, Al Haig, to cancel any future meeting with an African leader that sided against the U.S. on Taiwan.

“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said, according to newly unearthed tapes published by Tim Naftali, a clinical associate professor of history at New York University, in The Atlantic.

The California governor was furious that members of the Tanzanian delegation began dancing when the General Assembly voted to seat a delegation from Beijing instead of Taiwan.

“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan added, which prompted laughter from the president.

The conversation, which was recorded by Nixon, was partially released in 2000. A court order forced the tapes to be reviewed chronologically in 2013.

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