1969 SPECIAL REPORT:BLACK PEOPLE AND NIXON

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Some historians say that by the time Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, the nation was its most divided since the Civil War. Shortly after taking the Oath of Office as President of the United States, Richard Nixon said the following on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 1969: In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another–until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices. One of the pressing issues of Nixon’s first administration was school desegregation. Despite the unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education Topeka (1954) and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, 80 percent of schools remained segregated throughout the nation’s South. In 1969, in another unanimous decision, the Supreme Court decided in Alexander v. Holmes County, “to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter unitary schools.” The Nixon administration chose to adopt the policy position of a unitary school system, however to avoid the controversial issue over bussing, favored it on the basis where children, without taking in account race, would attend schools closest to their homes.


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