Donald Trump is far from the first racist president.
A 1971 discussion between former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon released by the National Archives features Reagan—an aspirational figure for Republican lawmakers—calling African diplomats "monkeys" who are still uncomfortable wearing shoes.
Listen to the disturbing tape below.
Ronald Reagan was a lifelong racist. https://t.co/jZfnPOilti— Shaun King (@Shaun King)1564595405.0
Presidents across the country's history have been publicly racist. Donald Trump frequently uses racist rhetoric to vilify people of color to boost his favor with his base.
Trump's private racist screeds, such as calling African countries "sh*thole countries," often go public as well.
Reagan rarely supported civil rights policies. He opposed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, citing the oft-repeated "states' rights" talking point. Reagan also perpetuated the racist trope of the "welfare queen."
When he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan supported antisemitism under Mccarthyism and helped blacklist many Jewish and minority entertainers.
The tape of Reagan's overt racism, to some, still came as a surprise.
@shaunking I had no idea.— David Weissman (@David Weissman)1564595525.0
@NBCNews 😮 oh damn! We all know Nixon was racist but I had no idea Reagan was— Jakey G[DERO] (@Jakey G[DERO])1564622828.0
Experts on Reagan's life and movements named after him were forced to backtrack.
“I’m kind of taken aback. This is stunning,” said Bob Spitz, author of Reagan: An American Journey. “In all of my… https://t.co/2aDUTc7hz7— Lois Beckett (@Lois Beckett)1564596954.0
Reagan was an exceptional President, his leadership freed millions of people enslaved under the yoke of communism.… https://t.co/09tKhrMOom— The Reagan Battalion (@The Reagan Battalion)1564588543.0
We believe that every human being is a child of God and is equal in the eyes of God, skin color should not play a r… https://t.co/2iwpvH32x1— The Reagan Battalion (@The Reagan Battalion)1564587377.0
The Reagan Battalion still couldn't bring themselves to call the racist comments racist.
Our statement is out there for everyone to read, we understand that your life mission is to divide Americans along… https://t.co/GNfKV95zG7— The Reagan Battalion (@The Reagan Battalion)1564588941.0
Reverence for Reagan has been a mainstay in Republican campaigns for decades, so these revelations will put Republican candidates for virtually every position in a tough spot on the campaign trail.
Many people of color, however, weren't surprised to hear the tapes at all.
@shaunking Who’s really surprised by this?? 🤷🏽♂️— Tethered Derrick Rose (@Tethered Derrick Rose)1564595738.0
@shaunking Once he changed the gun laws in California after Black Panther Party exercised their 2nd Amendment rights spoke volumes for me— Karen Lewis (@Karen Lewis)1564601825.0
@shaunking @wrighttoleft Is... is this news? https://t.co/VrWdx3e6Oz— miz behave (@miz behave)1564607613.0
@shaunking Why is everyone acting surprised???— Lizzie (@Lizzie)1564617347.0
Many Democrats frequently say that Trump is "the most racist president in American history," but the sad truth is, Trump is simply upholding a long-held, insidious American tradition.
Disparities in treatment based on race and ethnicity were common in laws of the United States. The book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, available here, covers the history of some of those official policies.