Accessibility links

Breaking News

President Reagan's Daughter Apologizes For Father's Racist Comments

FILE - President Richard Nixon greets California Governor Ronald Reagan, right, in San Diego on Aug. 16, 1968.
FILE - President Richard Nixon greets California Governor Ronald Reagan, right, in San Diego on Aug. 16, 1968.

The daughter of U.S. President Ronald Reagan has asked for forgiveness for her father's racist remarks.

Patti Davis said in an opinion piece published Thursday in The Washington Post she "wasn't prepared for the tape of my father using the world 'monkeys' to describe black African delegates to the United Nations who had voted in a way that angered him."

Members of the Tanzanian delegation had voted in 1971 to shift U.N. recognition from Taiwan to the People's Republic of China.

"To see those, those monkeys from those African countries - damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes," then California Governor Reagan said in a telephone call with then-President Richard Nixon, who taped the conversation.

The tape of Reagan remarks accompanied an article about the comments Wednesday on the website of The Atlantic.

"There is no defense, no rationalization, no suitable explanation for what my father said on that taped phone conversation," Davis wrote.

"If I had read his words as a quotation, and not heard them, I'd have said they were fabricated," she wrote. "Because I never heard anything like that from him."

". . . but it doesn't remove the knife cut of the words I heard him say on that tape. That wound will stay with me forever," Davis said. She added that she believed "if my father had, years after the fact, heard that tape, he would have asked for forgiveness."

"But the words he used in his conversation with Nixon," Davis said, "cannot be interpreted as anything but ugliness."

The Atlantic article was written by Tim Naftali, a professor at New York University, who was the director of the Nixon Presidential Library from 2007 to 2011.

The comments about the Africans were "apparently withheld to protect Reagan's privacy " when the tape was originally released in 2000, Naftali wrote.

Reagan's death in 2004 "eliminated the privacy concern" and Naftali wrote that last year he requested a review of Reagan's conversations. That move resulted in the National Archives releasing Reagan's complete October 1971 conversation with Nixon.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.