Former US President Ronald Reagan in a 1971 telephone call with then-President Richard Nixon described African delegates to the United Nations (UN) as “monkeys”.
Mr Reagan was the Governor of California at the time he made the comment in the newly unearthed tapes. He was reportedly angry that African delegates at the UN took sides against the US in a vote to recognise China’s sovereignty over that of Taiwan. The Tanzanian delegation began dancing in celebration of the vote.
“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected.
Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”
Nixon gave a huge laugh.
The aftermath of the vote also had President Nixon telling his deputy national security adviser Al Haig, to cancel any future meeting with any African leader that sided against the U.S. on Taiwan even if they had already been scheduled.
“Don’t even submit to me the problem that it’s difficult to turn it off since we have already accepted it,” Nixon exclaimed.
“Just turn it off, on the ground that I will be out of town.”
The recording published in The Atlantic was unearthed by Tim Naftali who is a clinical associate professor of history at New York University and Director of Nixon Presidential Library from 2007 until 2011.
Mr Reagan served as US president from 1981-1989 and is also remembered for publicly defending the apartheid states of Rhodesia and South Africa in the 1970s. He died in 2004 aged 93 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
The unearthed audio came weeks after President Donald Trump attacked four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color using racist language, implying they weren’t American and suggesting they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”