My latest reading of Daniel Frick's Reinventing Richard Nixon challenged the revisionist claim that President Richard Nixon significantly advanced the well-being of African-Americans.
to Frick, more public schools became desegregated when Nixon was
President simply because Nixon was enforcing the Supreme Court decision
of Alexander v. Holmes County. Frick states that "Put simply, Nixon had
no choice but to act as he did" (page 155). On page 158, Frick notes
that the unemployment rate for African-Americans jumped from 6.4 percent
in 1969 (when Nixon became President) to "as high as 10 percent in
1972" (page 158). Frick also states that, according to the U.S. Census
Bureau, in 1974 (Nixon's last year in office), 22.6 percent of
African-Americans between the ages of eighteen and sixty-four were in
poverty. African-American men between 1969 and 1979 merely gained $21
for every $1,000 that white men earned, whereas they had gained $82
between 1959-1969. Frick then notes that the ten years after 1969-1979
(the decade that would include the Reagan years) were even worse in
terms of the gain in African-American income in comparison to what white
men made: it was $22.
Joan Hoff, in her revisionist book Nixon Reconsidered, offers other, more positive statistics. On page 97, she refers to independent surveys that Nuestro Business Review and Black Enterprise
conducted in 1981, which showed that "56 of the top 100 black firms had
been established 'between 1969 and 1976, 30 of them in the years of
1969 through 1971 when the federal minority enterprise program [under
Nixon] was being launched.'"
I did a search on the
African-American poverty rate. I could not find specifically the
poverty rates by year for African-Americans between the ages of 18 and
64. Here and here,
though, are charts about the African-American poverty rate over the
past five decades, or so. Essentially, during the Kennedy and Johnson
Administrations, the African-American poverty rate plunged dramatically,
though it still remained in the double digits. Under Nixon, it
increased slightly, then decreased slightly, then increased slightly
again, and then decreased. It would later make a dramatic rise under
Carter (probably due to the recession), and it continued to rise under
Reagan until 1983 or so, when it fell. Through all of this time, it
was in the double digits.
UPDATE: On page 267, Frick states: "Even Nixon's successes in
affirmative action served this scheme. [Presumably, the scheme is
taking political advantage of divisions.] The Philadelphia Plan, which
worked to increase the number of blacks gaining unionized employment in
the construction industry or the administration's program to give a
predetermined number of federal contracts to businesses owned by
minorities allowed Nixon to pit blacks against organized labor."