Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reinventing Richard Nixon 6

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.

According 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."

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